Due to the spectacular shooting sprees over the last decade or so, much attention is being paid to deaths caused by firearms, but little attention is given to the much larger number of deaths which occur annually in vehicular homicides (In Sharp Reversal, Highway Deaths Rise):
Road deaths in the USA rose 5.3% last year to 34,080, the first year-over-year increase in traffic fatalities since 2005, according to preliminary estimates today from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The fatality rate — which is number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled — is projected to rise to 1.16 from 1.10. ... Crash fatalities were up for every quarter of 2012 compared with 2011, the NHTSA says.
The deaths caused by the 2,000 pound bullets known as "automobiles" are every bit as gruesome as those caused by guns, but we accept them as the cost of the privilege of living and driving in a free society. The majority of these deaths are caused by people misusing the "weapon" -- high on alcohol or drugs -- but still, we do not think of curtailing the right to drive beyond state licensing tests and drunk driving suspensions.
The good liberals who wish to characterize gun owners as "nuts" call this comparison invalid, but both activities involve the possibility of non-consensual death at the hands of an out of control tool user. In both cases, the victims are often unaware of the act which will become an imminent threat to their life or well-being. In both cases, astute licensure of the user and control over the form of the weapon could reduce deaths, yet we seem disinterested altering our driving habits. If reduction of the loss of life due to violence is the goal, why not focus on any weapon of mass destruction?
Some constructive suggestions to help reduce the number of traffic fatalities:
--Limit the horsepower of vehicles. In Europe cars do just fine at even higher speed limits than in the States at considerably lower average horsepowers (70-100 bhp compared to the U.S. which tends to 180-250.)
--Require all drivers to undergo Defensive Driving courses before they can get a drivers license.
--Disallow certain groups of mentally ill people from driving. Perhaps the same groups who would be disallowed firearms would also be disallowed driving licenses.
--Ban cell phones and texting while driving (duh?)
--Lower speed limits, which saves gas and lives
The aggression of a time-pressed society plays itself out in the phenomena of road rage, or worse, the mesmerized tailgating which is a part of daily-driving. People drive offensively to hopefully gain a few minutes in arrival time, risking their lives as well as mine. Both guns and cars are tools which can mete out death, whether intentional or due to inattention.
Why are traffic deaths accepted as the price of life in a free society while gun deaths are demonized? The damage wrought upon the individual is commensurate in either activity, and often just as indiscriminate.