By Greg Stovall
Last year, the equivalent of the entire population of Menlo Park was obliterated on our national roadways. That’s 32,367 people. The victims included more than 750 children under the age of 9, including unborn babies. Also included in that total were grandparents, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, members of soccer teams, clergymen, firemen, policemen, doctors, EMTs and nurses. The list covers every segment of our population.
Many of these victims suffered horrific fatal injuries, including decapitations, massive blunt force trauma and being burned beyond recognition. I know from personal experience, as a former firefighter and as one who had been the first, and only, person to stop at a local gruesome, fatal accident.
Not so long ago — 1980, in fact — the equivalent of the entire 1993 population of Davis was similarly expunged — that would be 51,093 deaths and was the high watermark of such carnage.
Of last year’s total fatalities, more than 10,000 people died as a result of drunken or impaired driving. Many of these drivers are still driving among us today, ready to kill again. More than 3,000 people were killed as a result of distracted drivers (e.g., texting). And from what I’ve seen on our roadways, this insane practice continues unabated.
This loss of life has been going on for more than a century and will continue into the foreseeable future. Since 1910, more than 3.5 million of our fellow citizens have been killed on our roadways. Tragedy doesn’t begin to describe the loss of life, as well as the survivors’ injuries.
Why am I bringing this up? Perspective, in light of recent events. Yes, the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., was all that and more due to the method of the killings and the ages of the victims. Are the 27 victims of Adam Lanza’s senseless rampage any more sacred than the millions killed on our roadways? The death of an innocent victim is still a death. And whether these deaths occur in large numbers or small should be irrelevant.
But I don’t see presidents going on national television, in prime time, lecturing us that we need to make fundamental changes in our behavior. Or other politicians jumping on their soapbox making similar pronouncements. There is no national hue and cry for the complete elimination of motor vehicles, the implements of this bloodbath, nor for alcohol or impairing drugs.
No, we just seem to accept it. Perhaps it is because these deaths don’t occur in large enough doses and for the most part happen “somewhere else.” One or two killed here, a few there. Oh, maybe when a school bus or other such vehicle is involved and there are multiple child deaths do we take notice, shake our heads, exclaim “Such a tragedy” and then move on.
However, there seems to be no small measure of hypocrisy in the way in which our elected representatives have chosen to deal with Newtown’s tragedy. Predictably, if a gun is involved, the meme is that we must have more gun control laws and eliminate so-called assault weapons. Sorry, but that genie left the bottle and is not going back in.
Besides, I’m not clear on how putting more laws on the books prevents a criminal or mentally deranged individual from carrying out their intent. By definition, a criminal doesn’t care about our laws. It is only the disarmed, law-abiding individual that stands to lose in a confrontation with such monsters.
What I find particularly horrifying is that the current administration provides weapons — including the fully automatic variety, which are truly assault weapons — to foreign criminals and drug traffickers with no plan to track or control them. And then those very same weapons are used to kill our citizens.
I am further disgusted that these people use Newtown’s tragedy to further their agenda — one that will have almost zero impact on criminal activity but will only further limit the freedoms and liberties of law-abiding citizens.
— Greg Stovall is a Davis resident.