Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Forget the gun lobby, car culture kills
Special to the Daily
Something must be done to end the slaughter.
Colorado’s Democrat-controlled legislature is currently embroiled in a flurry of hysteria-fuelled anti-firearm legislation, much of it ineffective or unenforceable, some of it probably unconstitutional and all of it designed not to have a positive impact, but to make the legislators and their acolytes feel good about themselves. If they are really interested in protecting the citizenry of our fair state, they need to turn their attention to the real threat to citizens’ lives: cars. If they care about the deaths of innocents, that’s where the carnage happens.
According to FBI statistics, in 2009 there were 10,332 homicides and “negligent manslaughters” by gunfire in the United States; in 2010, there were 9,937. In 2011, 9,892. We will have to wait awhile for 2012 statistics, but despite the shrieking press coverage preliminary evidence is that there will be about as many homicides with guns as in 2010.
On the other hand, 33,808 people died in car crashes in 2009. In 2010 the figure was 32,885. In 2011, 32,367 people perished. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are preliminary for 2012, but they show a 7.1% rise in fatalities for the first nine months of the year.
In 2009, 465 people died on Colorado roads; in 2010, 448. By comparison, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation counted 129 homicides in 2010 and 156 in 2011. Only some of the latter were gun crimes, so – again, despite the screaming and histrionics – the numbers indicate that cars are the most prolific instruments of death by far. This has to stop.
Since the Legislature’s operating theory on firearms seems to be that evil is inherent in the thing, not the user – hence, restrictions on magazine capacity and rifles that “look mean” in the words of one anti-gun wag – perhaps they should apply the same logic to automobiles. For a start, how about a law mandating that all cars sold in Colorado have a device installed that limits their speed to five miles per hour? That would probably eliminate most of our auto-related deaths. We would then have to lower our speed limits to that maximum, and patrol our highways heavily until all those dangerous out-of-state visitors and truckers got the message: no irresponsibly dangerous behavior here, buddy…
Since distracted driving is also a problem, cars sold here would also have to come with a jamming device, to eliminate the deadly act of dialing and texting while driving. And since radios can be a distraction as well, sorry…by law, no car in the state can be sold or transferred with a radio. Passengers may also distract, but since we want to protect the environment by carpooling, the Legislature must mandate that all cars sold in-state henceforth must have a transparent, soundproof barrier separating the driver from the rest of the vehicle.
Those really interested in saving lives might note that about a third of Colorado’s highway fatalities involved drunk drivers, year after year – and that Colorado is the hottest spot in the region for this crime. In 2010, 127 of our 448 traffic deaths were caused by drunk drivers – more than a quarter of the total, almost equal to the number of homicides in the state. Many of the offenders had at least one previous arrest for DUI.
To put an end to this menace, breathalyzer ignition interlocks must be installed on all vehicles sold in the state. Yes, each and every one, to prevent the possibility of an unprotected car being transferred to a potential drunk driver. After all, if it would save just one life, wouldn’t it be worth it?
And a law must be passed to subject car dealers and those who dispose of their used – sorry, “pre-owned” – vehicles privately, to unlimited liability for potential future misuse. These are prolific instruments of mass murder, so we can’t have the manufacturer or reseller escaping the consequences of their irresponsible acts, can we?
Yes, the above suggestions are an absurdity. But no more so than the current nonsense under the Golden Dome at 200 East Colfax. Apparently, the Democrat majority in Colorado’s General Assembly has forgotten that things do not commit acts; people do. An assemblage of metal, plastic and chemicals has no will of its own; that resides in the user. And if the user is malicious, evil, drunk or mad, it is he or she who should be the center of attention and action – not the instrument employed in their deeds. A simple distinction, but seemingly beyond our legislators, who prefer the emotional and overwrought to the simple and commonsensical. And who continue to ignore the butchery committed by cars.
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