Amid all the calls for tightened gun control, better mental health care, etc., in the wake of yet another mass murder, I would like to take this opportunity to address one of my pet peeves: blacked-out car windows.
The perpetrator of the Santa Barbara killings fired from within his black BMW, equipped with dark black tinted windows (including the driver’s window). Law enforcement hates these tinted windows as much as I do; they prevent anyone from seeing the person in the car and thus prevent a police officer from seeing weapons or suspicious activity from outside.
Tinting a car’s front windows that darkly is illegal because it is unsafe. As a driver, pedestrian or cyclist, I cannot tell if the driver of such a car sees me. Isn’t making eye contact supposed to be part of safe driving? If you can see that the other driver hasn’t seen you , you can take defensive action. If you can’t see the other driver at all, it’s impossible to know what to do.
Furthermore, people who choose to hide in their cars in this way are insulating themselves from interacting with others, depersonalizing and devaluing the lives of people around them. I imagine the Santa Barbara murderer felt safe in his black cocoon, knowing that he couldn’t be seen brandishing his guns.
It’s time to step up enforcement of existing laws regarding car window tinting. And wouldn’t it make sense to make it illegal for businesses to install such tinting? I ask that our legislators look into this issue. It will be a small step in the direction of making our streets safer.