Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Car vs. The Gun

     I'm sure that 99% of us have heard some gun fanatic state: "Cars can kill people too, why not ban those along with guns?" In today's post I will debunk this pathetic red herring. I will begin by explaining why this is a red herring before I attack this saying directly. A red herring is a logical fallacy where an individual gives an argument designed to distract an opponent from the point being argued. When level-headed people debate gun control, we discuss why regulations are needed and the dangers of regulation-free gun ownership. Rarely is the outright banning of guns or an unnecessary hatred of all things gun-related expressed. The above quote is a red herring because it assumes we only advocate gun control because guns can kill people and that we want guns fully illegalized, thus distracting from the main points we actually make. The saying is also designed to make gun control sound ridiculous by assuming we want to regulate guns for inappropriate reasons, also distracting from the real reasons for gun control. Now to attack the quote: I propose that guns, like cars, can be lethal weapons but measures exist to prevent deaths due to cars that do not even remotely exist in concern to guns.
     Cars have killed countless people around the world via car accidents, drunk driving, and intentionally hitting people. However, governments and people recognize these dangers and implement countermeasures to prevent these atrocities:

     1) First and foremost, if anyone wishes to drive a car they must take a certified course in how to operate cars and demonstrate competency before receiving a license. These licenses only last for a set period of time and individuals must demonstrate that they still know how to operate a vehicle before being re-licensed and returning to the roads. Buses and taxis carry individuals other than oneself and thus people must acquire an endorsement or whole new category of driver's license to show that they are capable of driving additional passengers and maintaining their safety. Semi-trucks, especially those transporting hazardous materials, pose a greater danger to others and are more difficult to operate. As such, state agencies require additional training and licenses/endorsements before one can operate these dangerous machines. Furthermore, planes are very difficult to utilize and pose enormous risk if mishandled so enormous numbers of flight hours must be logged and extensive schooling must be undergone before one can fly even a bi-plane. Larger passenger planes naturally take more time and training. Long story short, governments require people to take courses in and demonstrate capability to utilize vehicles before allowing citizens to drive due to the inherent dangers of driving.

     2) People and companies alike must register their vehicles. The relatively non-controversial requirement to register motor vehicles has worked wonders among car-related incidents. When someone commits a crime which a car, an observer can record the car's license plate number and report it to the police. The police then check their records for the owner of said car, giving immediate access to the information of the owner. The owner of the car may be the criminal and thus the crime is solved, or the car owner may not be the criminal and let the police know if it was perhaps stolen or they let someone borrow it (the borrower then becomes a suspect). Either way, the license plate abd car registration grants the police headway towards solving a crime. This knowledge also prevents crimes as would be criminals choose to avoid illegal activity knowing how easy it is to become caught (On a side note, it's easier to carry weapons, bodies, and stolen goods, as well as being a lot easier to flee a crime scene with a car than without a car). Additionally, if your car is stolen you can let the police know and the registered license plate makes finding the correct car intimately easier. A registered car also gives easy access to who's license is expired and thus who needs to re-test to get a new license. By keeping track of who needs a license renewal, we ensure that everyone who is driving is licensed and thus competent. Car registration requires a maintenance check to determine that the car is still safe to drive, thus ensuring the car's on the road aren't any more a danger than they need to be. Also, car registration makes identification of victim's of crashes fast and efficient. Another long story short, car registration protects everyone by preventing crime, solving crime, and ensuring that all cars and drivers are safe.

     3) Car's undergo yearly mandatory safely improvements and are thus safety minded. Every year, new laws and requirements go into affect to improve the safety of motor vehicles to both the occupants and the public around them. Everything from ABS, theft alarm systems, steel shells (SmartCar), moving head rests, OnStar, etc. etc. etc. Every year the risk of death from a car decreases as cars become more and more protective. Hell, Ford now has a system that primes the breaks and flashes a warning on the windshield if it's radar detects your approaching an object too quickly! These safety improvements are continuous, revolutionary, and a top priority in motor vehicles.

     The analogies to gun regulations in the above three points should be fairly obvious so I won't go into extreme detail but I will overview the impacts:

     1) Requiring that any owner and user of a gun take a course and obtain a license from its use (and I mean more than the pathetic Hunter's Safety Course) would greatly decrease injuries and deaths due to guns. Proper training prevents accidental discharges, inaccurate shots that harm bystanders (like your hunting buddy), and ensures everyone is aware of how to store and maintain their gun to prevent others from accessing it and ensuring it works properly.

     2) Gun registration works miracles. If guns are registered, than any gun at the crime scene or any photo of the registration number (which should be easily visible and fairly large) could identify the owner and therefore most likely culprit. Once again, someone could have stolen or borrowed the gun which the owner could easily tell the police granting another lead in a case. Also, if the law required each gun undergo ballistic fingerprinting then even a single bullet could identify the gun and thus it's owner providing the same leads as the gun itself (and while painting over your gun registration number may be easy, recovering bullets you shot into someone is not). As with cars, registration helps ensure everyone is licensed and guns undergo periodic safety checks to ensure it is working properly.

     3) Guns need be safety first. As with cars, they are dangerous and should keep safety features a priority. I won't deny that guns have gotten safer with time, but the rate of gun safety features as opposed to the rate of car safety features doesn't even compare. The potential argument that "cars are larger and are larger and can thus have more safety features, guns just can't  get much safer" is frankly bullshit. Here's two examples I came up with as I wrote this article (and if I can make them up in the spot what can the experts do?): a fingerprint scanner on the trigger akin to the scanner on the new iPhone home button and the SentrySafe pistol case to ensure only you can fire your weapon; a small computer chip that keeps track of the time each time the gun is fired (this would help police as texting records helps catch people texting and driving and let's the owner know if their gun is being used without their permission). Basically, there's tons of potential to improve gun safety, so start mandating it.

     Yes, both cars and guns are dangerous. Yes, the second amendment protects your right to own guns (I'd actually argue against that since it explicitly states in the Second Amendment that the Second Amendment exists for the purpose of maintaining a state militia, but that's an argument for another article). No one wants to outlaw cars and few people want to fully outlaw every gun in existence. What we want is gun regulations similar to car regulation. Cars are dangerous so we regulate them, guns are dangerous but we don't do anything about it. This needs to change. We as the common people of America and victims of gun crime in America must petition and fight for increased gun control. I encourage everyone to do so by signing the following petition and sharing this article with everyone.

Petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/s/wdTdgr

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