Dinesh D’Sousa has been dishonest his whole life. As a student at Dartmouth, his pieces for The Dartmouth Review were so consistently false his peers called him Distort D’Newsa. With experience, he has become an even bigger liar. He has prospered as a conservative gadfly and fabulist.
It is easy to work his side of the street. You do not need to bear the expense of fact-checkers — or the burden of logic. Take his reaction to the latest American school massacre. He trots out the meaningless pablum that “ Guns don’t kill people. People kill people”. (Note: people with guns kill a lot more people than people without guns,)
However, he reveals his true nature through his confident assertion of complete bullshit — to wit, his tweeted statement, “Well, cars kill more people than guns do.”
Not only is that a lie, but it is also an easily provable lie. In 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 42,915 people died from car accidents. For the same year, the Gun Violence Archive reported 45,166 gun deaths.
It is true that more people used to die on the road than they did by gunshot, but American gun-nuttery, combined with a concerted effort to reduce car deaths, has flipped that coin. Politicians took the devastation wrought by car crashes and did something about it.
They passed laws requiring automobile safety features — like mandating seat belt use and frontal airbags. Traffic experts redesigned roads and signs. And the authorities took on one of the leading causes of crashes — drunk driving. Although, they needed a kick in the ass from a civilian to get on it.
On May 3, 1980, Cari Lightner, a 13-year-old girl, was killed by a drunken hit-and-run driver in Fair Oaks, CA. The 46-year-old driver, recently arrested for another DUI hit-and-run, left Cari's body at the scene. Cari's mother, Candace (Candy) Lightner, decided to turn tragedy into solutions and organized Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
From 1980 to 2021, the US automobile fatality rate declined by 64%. From 2000 to 2021, American gun deaths increased by 56%.
It was not smooth sailing. The car lobby, much like the gun, tobacco, lead, and fossil fuel lobbies, was ferocious in protecting profits no matter who got hurt. Lee Iacocca, the creator of the Ford Mustang and the man who rescued Chrysler, was adamantly opposed to saving lives with mandatory airbags. Although, he became a convert. And thousands of Americans are alive today in part because of his epiphany.
Engineers had talked about airbags for years. However, the car companies were unenthusiastic — supposedly because of technological doubts, but probably because of the expense. And as Iacocca had said in 1972, “Safety doesn’t sell.”
In 1971, he and Henry Ford II (then the top executives at the Ford Motor Co.) met secretly with President Richard Nixon to persuade him to kill a pending Department of Transportation regulation requiring airbags in every new car sold in the United States.
Then Iacocca changed his mind, mainly because the American car consumer proved his dictum about safety wrong — it did sell. During the 1980s, Volvo stressed its reputation for safety, and its sales increased while other imports declined.
In 1990, the former absolutist on airbag rejection boasted that Chrysler was the only car company offering drivers airbags standard on all its vehicles. Ford upped the ante by adding a passenger airbag in all its cars. Today, the idea of a car not having both front and side airbags is hard to imagine — even though side airbags are not mandatory.
Nowhere did this welcome rise of sanity require anyone to ban cars. Why? Because we achieved the result by requiring driver's licenses, written and road tests, and safety lessons. In addition, the law requires drivers to carry insurance and cars to pass safety inspections.
In the case of automobiles, politicians paid heed to what the majority of Americans supported — safer cars, driven by qualified drivers, bound by laws and regulations limiting the damage a few anti-social gits could do.
Industry groups and the AAA have embraced life-saving measures. In contrast, the gun lobby, rallying around the NRA's bloody standard, has bribed craven conservatives to thwart the will of the majority with a cynical embrace of the Second Amendment.
Their fundamentalist interpretation of that poorly worded passage would have horrified the Founders. I wager that, if they were alive today, they would look at the massacre of children and the daily grind of gun deaths with horror. They would roll up their sleeves and fix it — whatever it took.
Thomas Paine would say that was only common sense.