Sunday, September 20, 2009

Guns? Who Needs Guns? (II)

The other day, when I stopped at a service station, I saw a car parked there on the rear window of which was a full-width transfer reading WEAPON.

A week later, on a highway whose condition is being blamed for far too many deaths, I again witnessed a double-dose of the simple truth that it's people who are to blame for those deaths; not some innocent object. Way I see it, and I drive that highway several times a week, there's nothing wrong with it. If anything, it's in pretty good condition, and laid out quite sensibly, so that anybody with an iota of driver's sense will be very safe on it indeed. But there's a lot wrong with the morons who drive on it and the pathetic enforcement of sensible traffic behavior by the police—who really, and I know this is a stereotype but it is true nonetheless, are never to be seen here where they're needed. Especially on weekends!

Anyway, one thought led to another, as thoughts often do, and I found these numbers—using US statistics, since the US is at the center of the argument, for reasons that will be obvious:

In the US the average number of cars per capita is about 0.8. The average annual number of road deaths per 100k people is about 15.

Also in the US, the average number of guns per capita is about 0.9. The average annual number of firearms-related deaths per 100k people is about 12.

Yes, that's right: A car is more likely to kill someone than a gun. From the above figures cars win the killing score by a ratio of 1.4 : 1! It may be that tweaking the numbers could equalize the ratios a bit; but it could also make them even more divergent. I wonder if anyone would care to study this in detail—preferably without an agenda, but that of wanting to find the truth. Not that anybody will. There's no money in it.

While gun proponents will no doubt gleefully jump on the above figures to make their case, gun opponents will with equal certainty try to rationalize them away by specious explanations.

However, this isn't about the merits of gun ownership vs. car ownership, but about the simple fact that a car is indeed just as much—or, as it does appear, at least as much!—a killing instrument as a gun. Yet think of how differently states who impose draconian bans on gun ownership, like some US states, nations like Australia and New Zealand, as well as most EU states, treat the two kinds of lethal weapons.

I invite you to overcome your utterly predictable knee-jerk desire to invoke facile explanations for why this should be so—no matter what side of this gun-ownership fence you happen to be on.

Meanwhile I have one possible solution for the problem of drivers who either think they may consider their vehicle as a 'weapon', or who are just too stupid and incapable of making rational and responsible judgments about the obligations imposed on them by being allowed to be in control of a heavy metal potential killing machine.

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