Friday, August 29, 2014

Guns or cars? They’re still dead

From page A6 | January 24, 2013 |

I don’t normally respond to comments made regarding my letters to the editor, primarily because it’s tedious and time-consuming, and space limits apply despite the fairly generous word count restrictions imposed by the editor. That being said, I just couldn’t let Anya Clasen’s personal attack go unchallenged to my recent commentary (Jan. 6).

It must be nice to live in Clasen’s statistical percentages world where she seems to derive comfort in the fact that we “only” killed 32,367 instead of 51,093 on our roadways in 2011, apparently an impressive three/eighths reduction, according to her. Her extensive litany of vehicle miles driven, population growth, deaths per 100,000, etc., might make interesting conversation for actuaries but they are largely irrelevant.

She failed miserably in understanding the simple concept of comparing the number of deaths by one means to the number of deaths by another means and the response thereto. The simple fact was that the general response to the number of deaths on our roadways versus the recent deaths caused by a lone madman seemed out of proportion and certainly agenda-driven, all deaths being equal.

And no, Ms. Clasen, I haven’t been asleep these past three decades. In fact, in the mid-1980s I was responsible (with the able assistance of my then-state Sen. Jim Nielsen) for amending the California Vehicle Code to allow (then illegal) high-intensity red fog tail lights for cars — fog being a real safety issue in our area.

Many of the transportation changes you enumerate regarding safety were pressed by the insurance lobby, not through any altruistic motivation on their part but for the corporate bottom line. And as to our representatives being consistent in doing their job for protecting the public, I could write a tome on the absolute opposite.

You further go on to list irrelevant data regarding VIN numbers, licensing, testing, insurance, etc., as a means of contrasting gun ownership with automobile ownership. Could you point out in the U.S. Constitution where owning an automobile is a right and protected?

Car ownership and operation is certainly highly regulated but not always for the safety concerns of the general public — look at the extraordinary revenue generated through the many fees and taxes. That being said, between 2007 and 2009, more than 21,000 people were killed in hit-and-run accidents in the United States by illegal, unlicensed individuals as reported in a study performed by the AAA Foundation. That’s, on average, more than 7,000 people killed, per year, due to the acts of negligent individuals, without regard to laws, safety equipment, insurance, training, licensing or background checks.

Further, Clasen seems to be reading words that I didn’t write. In her statement that my “most egregious hypocrisy” in my “failed argument is that the automobile is not designed and engineered to be a killing machine like a gun is.” I don’t believe that was my “argument” or intent, but as long as you brought it up, what’s the difference how someone was killed? They are still dead.

And, Ms. Clasen, your statement with regards to gun ownership that there is “no common-sense oversight, regulation or moderation” is flat-out wrong. Perhaps my common sense differs from yours, but, have you ever researched what it takes to own a handgun or, for that matter, a semi-automatic rifle? Try it sometime.

The pamphlet on California firearms laws issued by the attorney general in 2007 is more than 55 pages, and that’s just a summary and there have been dozens of laws enacted since its publication. Ultimately if someone is willing to ignore our most revered law of “thou shall not kill,” in what twisted-logic universe do you think they give a damn about breaking any of our lesser laws?

And as to your statement that “life has always come before liberty” is completely backwards. There is no life without liberty, unless, of course, you happen to be the one doling out liberties to the enslaved masses.

— Greg Stovall is a Davis resident.



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