What is a trigger-happy Australian with a hankering for heavy weaponry and a fetish for firing rockets to do?
If you are country music crooner Steve Lee, you hop on the next plane to Cambodia.
And last November, that is exactly what Mr Lee did.
For the music video to his new song “I Like Guns,” a film crew follows the singer from his New South Wales ranch to Cambodia to record his cross-country shooting spree. And since hitting YouTube last month, the guns and music video has gone viral; viewers have downloaded the two-and-a-half minute video clip more than 1.25 million times in its first six weeks.
Accompanied by the twang of an acoustic guitar, the video starts off in Australia with Mr Lee loading a small arsenal of pistols and rifles before turning a neat row of juicy watermelons and bright red bell peppers into a wasteland of bullet-holed pulp.
But Mr Lee wanted more than the Australian outback, and the country’s already lax gun laws, had to offer.
As the singer explains in a November posting on his website a few days after returning from Cambodia, “We visited a local shooting range and had the time of our lives. We got to shoot all sorts of cool weapons that are impossible to get our hands on in Oz.”
The music video shows Mr Lee boarding a plane for Cambodia. Once here, he fires off an M60 machine gun at the shooting range outside Phnom Penh. He then buys a car and hits Cambodia roads, ending up in a mountainous area with military trenches and plenty of large weapons. On his travels, Mr Lee tries out a few more offerings–a heavy machinegun and an M79 grenade launcher–before moving on to the main attraction: a B-40 rocket-propelled grenade. In the video’s final moments, Mr Lee aims, fires, and turns the car he has just bought into a burning heap of twisted metal. He turns to the camera, and smiles.
With its staunchly pro-gun lyrics, the song has won the Australian a faithful following in the US. On one online forum of US gun enthusiasts, a guest suggests Mr Lee play a concert at the next annual convention of the National Rifle Association, the US’s most influential gun lobby.
“I don’t really get all the fuss. Why are they trying to take the guns off of us?” Mr Lee sings in one verse of his song. “Cause I ain’t gonna shoot anyone and no one shoots me ’cause I got a gun.”
When told of Mr Lee’s video and asked if he had broken any laws in Cambodia, Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said he lacked the sufficient information to comment.
“I do not know because your input is little,” Mr Sopheak said.
Cambodian law, however, clearly prohibits using the sort of war weapons Mr Lee uses to destroy the car in his video.