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After the horrible shootings that occurred yesterday, many people are calling for at least a discussion about gun control.  Admittedly, there are some who want to ban guns altogether and make our gun control policy like Japan.  Japan averages about 5 gun related deaths per year, but it is nearly impossible to own a firearm.  Others like me are looking for a more realistic and reasonable approach, with constructive and logical discussion to try to solve an obvious problem.  One of the memes that I keep running into in every discussion is that “People die every day in car accidents.  Why don’t we ban cars?”.  This is probably the argument that angers me the most, except for maybe the “God didn’t save those children in the school, because God is not welcome in public schools” argument.  At least I can dissect the “cars kill also” argument without wanting to scream obscenities and burn Mike Huckabee in effigy.  Let’s pull the “cars kill also” string for a while.

We travel in automobiles daily, sometimes surrounded by thousands of other people operating their automobiles in close proximity at a high rate of speed.  We travel in poor weather and at night, and we often drive while distracted, tired, or even when we are impaired by alcohol or drugs.  It is a miracle that more people aren’t killed in automobile accidents every day.

Only it isn’t a miracle.  It is an ongoing calculated risk equation.  There is a baseline probability of death whenever you operate an automobile on public roads.  We lower this baseline probability of death by several methods.  First, we require a state issued license in order to operate a motor vehicle.  This license is obtained by attending a state-mandated training program which includes classroom training, monitored practice sessions, a written exam, and a driving exam.  If you have a physical impairment such as bad vision, you must correct that impairment prior to receiving a license.  Acquiring this license shows that you have the minimum driving proficiency to operate a motor vehicle on the public roads.  This license does not apply to all vehicles, only the simplest passenger vehicles.  A separate training program and license is required to operate larger, more complex vehicles like trucks and buses.  We also require each vehicle to be licensed and inspected to ensure that it is a safe vehicle to drive on the roads, and that the owner is legally able to possess the vehicle.  Each driver is required by law to carry insurance on the vehicle prior to operation.  Liability is the minimum level of insurance required, to ensure that another drivers are covered in the event that you make an error in your driving.  There is financial backing if you cause an accident that results in property damage or personal injury. Other laws that make driving safer is that you are required to use the safety functions of your vehicle, like seatbelts and head/tail lights.  There are steep penalties for operating a motor vehicle without adhering to these rules, up to seizure of your vehicle and prison time.  These rules have evolved over time, and automobile deaths have lowered despite the gigantic increase in the number of cars on the road.  

So let’s compare gun ownership with car ownership, since the “cars kill also” meme gives them equivalency.  You don’t need a license to own a gun.  You don’t need any training to own any type of gun.  You don’t have to prove your proficiency in the operation of the gun prior to being allowed to shoot it.  You don’t have to register your weapon with anyone or prove that it is even safe to use.  You don’t have to carry insurance for owning a gun in case you accidentally shoot someone.  You can buy any type of gun, from the lowest peashooter to an assault rifle without any mental health evaluation or even a vision test to ensure that you can see what you are shooting at.
These are all behaviors and policies that do not lower the risk threshold concerning the ownership and operation of firearms, they actually increase the fault probability.

Now, for all you Second Amendment sticklers, my point is not that we should eliminate guns in the United States.  I have a Concealed Handgun License in the State of Texas and I have enjoyed firing weapons my entire life.  I have, however, received intensive training in the operation of firearms in the military and in my CHL class.  I believe every law abiding person should be able to buy and use all of the weapons they want provided that they have a license to own and shoot that legally registered weapon.  This license should be like a driver’s license with classroom and practical instruction and a proficiency test.  It should include a mental health screening, a background check, and a vision test.  You should have to carry insurance on every firearm you own, just like each car that you own, to provide financial coverage in the case of mishaps.  Lastly, there should be extremely heavy penalties if you are caught with a firearm without an operators license and the proper registration of the weapon in your possession.

Everybody jumps through all of these regulatory hoops to drive, because we need to drive our cars to get to work and to function in society.  These regulations and rules make driving safer for all of the drivers on the road, and provide accountability in the case of any unintentional problems that may occur while driving.  Why wouldn’t you use this proven risk reduction model to make gun ownership and gun usage safer for the public as a whole?  Oh yeah, freedom.  I forgot.  Also Hitler, communists, the UN, and Jesus.  Maybe you should add Mathematics to that list and give it a shot.


Do you own a firearm?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    Now, I'm rolling down Rodeo with a shotgun, these people ain't seen a brown skinned man since their grandparents bought one....

    by rickrocket on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 01:47:05 PM PST

  •  Yes, this mirrors what I have been saying (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mungley, radical simplicity

    in other diaries.  Let us pay attention to the well regulated part of the second amendment.

    I grew up around guns.  My father collected guns.  I was born and bred on gun safety but most people only know about guns based on what they watch on the television.

    "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

    by Sychotic1 on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 01:54:08 PM PST

  •  I would also add that to harm others with a car (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mungley, angel d, Duckmg, Arenosa

    they must either be pedestrians, or you must be willing to risk significant injury to yourself. A car is very inefficient as a tool of murder, which is why our armies use vehicles with guns on them, they don't try to ram everyone with a tank.

  •  I am coming to like the insurance idea. (5+ / 0-)

    Me personally, this has converted me to the Japan model.  But I am a realist and recognize that would require repeal of the 2a.

    But in the meanwhile - insurance to cover the heavy cost of the misuse of firearms in society, I think that would be an excellent starting point.  It could be sold as personal responsibility, bearing responsibility for the risks that a gun owner creates.  If the gun owner is willing to submit to additional screenings, such as the mental health assessments you discuss, insurance could be less expensive because a mental health professional could attest that, at the time of the screening, the gun owner appeared to be correctly wired.

    It's not perfect but I'll accept a good start.

    "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

    by auron renouille on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 02:04:45 PM PST

  •  this just might have legs (4+ / 0-)

    I like the idea a lot.

    If you think about it in even more practical terms:

    Lets say over time, health insurance companies begin to dwindle down with the advent of better alternatives like medicare for all, etc.

    The health insurance companies could always change their product to insurance for weapons owners.

    sounds like a win-win.

    yea, maybe a bit simplistic, but still...worth a think.

    Gun Control: If not now, then when????

    by karma13612 on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 02:15:39 PM PST

  •  plus, auto usage is way higher than gun usage (4+ / 0-)

    a high percentage of us use our cars every day or almost every day. We all know how long we spend driving. The amount of time hunting or going to target practice is miniscule in comparison.

    In deaths per hour of usage, automobiles are much less deadly than guns.

  •  Great diary. I'd like to throw conversion into the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    mix too.

    If your car used in the commission of a crime, you have the obligation to prove that it was not with your permission.
    It's your car, you're responsible. You also have to prove to someone (at least the insurance company) that you were not driving the car when if hit someone or something.

    The murdered in CT is a poor example, because he had murdered his mother yesterday, so it's hard to say when he took her weapons.

    But there are many other cases where a gun is used to kill someone, and the owner of the weapon is not asked to accept any responsibility.

    I understand that it's tough to keep track of all of your possessions, but if you have a firearm, you should know where it is, and if it goes missing report it immediately.

    The third worst thing is, cars can be used as weapons. I like to suggest that if they are such deadly weapons, why don't we just issues cars to people and forgo guns all together? I mean, if a car's such an awesome weapon, why even bother with a gun?

    Take back the House in 2014!!!!!!!!!!!! (50 state strategy needed)

    by mungley on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 03:04:06 PM PST

  •  Won't mental health assessments paint (0+ / 0-)

    A scarlet letter on the mentally ill?

  •  Car is Short for Karma (0+ / 0-)

    They are killing mother earth

    Legislating a severe reduction in auto fatalities by imposing draconian penalties on errant drivers.......
    sounds like some of the best intended restrictions on gun owners

    Just saying....

    Kenyan Socialism today Kenyan Socialism tomorrow Kenyan Socialism forever May his reign last 1,000 years

    by OMwordTHRUdaFOG on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 04:50:16 PM PST

  •  A dear friend just posted on FB: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radical simplicity
    Blaming the shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn. on guns is like blaming cars for drunk driving deaths. It just does not add up. There are magnitudes more deaths related to cars each year, but you do not hear a cry to take away our cars before another tragedy occurs. I'm just saying....
    My response:
    I can't imagine how a driver would intentionally crash into an elementary school and raze down twenty children within minutes. To complete the analogy, gun purchasers would have to get a license, prove proficiency, have insurance, and have legal proof of car ownership by VINs, so every single car is registered in a single database. I know you don't support any of that for guns because driving isn't a constitutional right. You prove to me that gun owners are part of a well-regulated militia, from a document written before we had an army to protect us, and all men of age had to report to train on a regular basis should the need to defend the country arise. Other parts of the constitution have been changed because they're outdated or no longer relevant. I love you dearly, J-------, you know that. We just totally disagree on this point.
    -> emphasis on VINs to add to your list

    Thank you, good diary.

    It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

    by sboucher on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:38:00 PM PST

  •  On the other hand, thinking of climate change (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe we should ban cars, after all. They are going to be implicated in an awful lot of children's deaths, not so far down the road.

  •  Great meme-busting! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Gryffin

    Love it. Especially the point about how less often guns are used. No mass murder has been committed by a car.

    The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

    by LiberalLady on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 07:20:22 PM PST

    •  Well, there was that '56 black Dodge Calcutta. (0+ / 0-)

      But still, I get your point.

      I'm never sure if I've forgotten and left the seat up, or if InvisObama™ is using the loo.

      by The Gryffin on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 09:01:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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