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Hypocrisy, Drunk Driving, and Gun Control

December 16, 2012

Disclaimer:  The point of this article is not to argue for or against gun control.  The point is to illuminate inconsistencies in the way humans think, and to make you stop and think about your own thought processes.

In the United States in 2007 there were 12,632 homicides with a  firearm.  This does not include firearm related suicides (another 17,352).   Accurate statistics of gun ownership is not available, but most estimates are around 200-250 million legally owned firearms in the U.S.  Also in the U.S. during 2007 there were 247 million registered automobiles, and 13,041 fatalities from drunk driving.   In 2006 there were 22,073 alcohol related deaths (I assume this includes deaths from DUI).

For our purposes today, the homicide rates from firearms and guns/DUI is identical.  Of course they are not perfectly identical, and they flip flop on which has more depending on the year.  But the numbers are close enough for this discussion, as absolute accuracy is not required.

Every life is precious.  Every life has untold value left untapped.  The loss of every life has a ripple effect on family, the community, and society.  So why do we not treat fatalities from DUI the same value that we treat fatalities from mass shootings?

When people talk about gun control they talk about banning certain types of guns, banning certain features of guns, or banning all guns outright.  We never hear about car bans.  We never (lately) hear about banning all alcohol sales.  We even give people with DUI convictions second chances, and return their drivers licence after some period.  If we banned all private cars or alcohol, would we not save as many lives as if guns magically ceased to exist in the U.S.?

At this point those in favor of gun control will be saying something like, “but the only purpose of a gun is to kill, and cars have other purposes”.   To which I say, “All life is precious”.  Is your right to drive 3 minutes to the store more valuable than someones life?  Is the inconvenience of public transportation more valuable than the life of a child?

I am not seriously proposing banning of cars and alcohol, but it does make one pause and reflect on what is important to us.

The truth is that we value our cars much more than those 13,041 people killed by DUI in 2007.  We value our alcohol much more than those 22,073 people killed by alcohol.  But we value some lives.  We value those 12,632 people who were shot in 2007, because they are the easy ones to value.  Because banning guns does not inconvenience our daily lives, but banning cars does.  We have to drink that beer or wine at that party, so we are unconcerned with those that die from alcohol.

Aren’t we the hypocrite for wanting to ban guns, yet not banning alcohol or cars?   Shouldn’t we be ashamed for only valuing the “low hanging fruit”?

So let’s go back to the “guns only purpose is to kill” statement.  There are many purposes for a gun that do not involve killing of people.  Of course there are the shooting sports (target shooting, shooting competitions, etc.).  People use guns for hunting, which in some areas and for some animals is an important method of population control to maintain healthy wildlife.  Guns are used for survival, especially in remote areas.  And of course guns are used for protection from human and non-human threats.  All of these are legal uses for a firearm.

The people who are pro gun control do not see the value in these legal uses for a gun.  That’s not really a fault of theirs, because maybe they live in a relatively safe urban environment where they don’t need to worry about bears invading their home, or they don’t need to protect themselves from intruders.  The shooting sports is of no interest to them (much like I don’t care for the Ballet).

So lets talk about something that strikes closer to home:  rape.  In the U.S. there are approximately 208,000 sexual assaults a year.  That is one every two minutes.   84% of rapists used physical force only (no weapons).  If you are a woman, your chances of being raped are near 4% by the time you turn 40.

Statistics on rape are hard to find.  Research on rape prevention are even harder.  But this paper has some interesting numbers.   When a sexual assault occurs, women who used non-aggressive methods (crying, pleading, etc.) to deal with their attacker were raped 96% of the time.  Women who used a forceful verbal resistance (screaming) were raped 44-50% of the time.   Running away resulted in only 15% of the victims being raped.   Hitting, punching, etc. resulted in 14% of the women raped.  And women who used guns or knives were raped only 1% of the time.   No statistics were available for the use of pepper spray.

Guns have their place in society.  They have legal uses.  In some cases there are no non-gun alternatives.  The vast majority of gun owners law abiding citizens, just like the vast majority of car drivers or beer drinkers.

Conclusion:

We are hypocrites for valuing some lives more than others, simply because we view them as “low hanging fruit”.   We are essentially arm-chair-quarterbacks when we want to make policy decisions on things that really have little to no effect on our lives.  We are cowards for yelling the slogans of political and social change without getting involved ourselves.

If you want to save lives, then learn the issues and go out and save lives.  Don’t just put a “Coexist” bumper sticker on your car and call it good.  Volunteer at a homeless shelter.  Do some hard labor with Habitat For Humanity.

If you want to ban guns, fine.  But get involved with a rape prevention program too.  Do what you can to provide young people with alternatives to joining gangs.   Help with suicide prevention programs and try to prevent some of the 35,000 suicides per year in the U.S..

When a mass shooting happens, it is easy and even fashionable to join the rally for change.   But what does that change really mean?  Is it just lip service, or is it real and meaningful change?  Sadly, most of the time it is just lip service.

Get involved.  Become a boot on the ground for saving lives.  Learn the facts about whatever topics or social issues that are important to you, and learn the facts that put those issues in perspective.  Make sure that the change you want will have the desired effect.   And above all, understand that all life is valuable– not just the low hanging fruit.

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15 comments

  1. David,

    Thank you so much for your article. I couldn’t agree more with your argument and I was making that very same argument with my friend just the other day. Perhaps there should be restrictions on who uses guns similar to who can use a car, but not restrictions on the gun themselves. For example, if someone is legally blind or mentally disabled, they aren’t allowed to operate a motor vehicle. Similarly, perhaps they shouldn’t be able to operate a firearm.


    • I would like to see the existing laws made more effective. Not changed, but implemented better. For example, Colorado maintains a list of people who are psychologically unfit to own a gun but gives that list to the FBI only twice a year. Someone diagnosed with a severe mental disorder could have a six month window in which they will be allowed to purchase a gun. It is possible that with better psychological reporting and more timely exchange of data with the FBI that the Aurora Theater Shooting could have been prevented.

      It is possible that the Tuscon shooting of Giffords and others could have also been prevented by better reporting from psychological reporting, since the shooter did have a history of drug and psych problems.

      Here is a link talking about Colorado Mental Health, with the stuff about reporting twice a year in the last paragraph: http://www.9news.com/news/local/article/305709/222/Gov-wants-expansion-of-mental-health-care


  2. Dear Mr. David,
    Your argument is logically seems to be correct but is it philosophic? Ask from your heart! Think what kind of quality given to the life by a car and what given by a gun. Look other way see data from other countries which has limited access to fire arms like Britain Australia. Don’t sow numbers but think the benefit to the public. Please think hove great the emotional impact on the society by mass killing. I think it is time to act before it is too late to see another tragedy.
    Thilak Weerakkodi. A Sri Lankan


    • Logic and reason are called for, not emotional rhetoric. It seems like you want and end to mass killings, which is noble, but you seem to think that banning guns will solve that. It won’t. The killers in the Sandy Hook and Aurora Theater incidents were smart and inventive people with a mental problem. They are smart enough to plan things months in advance– they can plan their terror without the need for guns.

      The Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people, injured more than 680, and caused US$652 million in property damage. And not one gun was used in the killings. Smart people with mental problems can spread havoc and terror.

      If you want laws to solve a problem, make sure that the laws will actually solve the problem. The last thing we need are more laws that just get in the way of law abiding citizens and do nothing to solve the problem. To date, none of the proposed gun control laws will do anything to solve the problem.


    • Thilak,

      The idea that laws could or would stop gun crime is pretty far-fetched. Just as laws can’t stop drug crime, violent crime or any other crime. All laws simply create punishment for crime. They don’t stop crime. When a gun tragedy happens here it makes world news.

      However, what never gets mentioned is the crimes that didn’t happen because the victim carried or owned a gun. You see, violent crimes like rape are severely reduced when the victim fights back with a gun. The law wasn’t going to stop the perpetrator. Only the gun would stop them and curtail the crime.


      • How many citizens at the height of their fear would have the wherewithal to grab, aim and shoot their aggressor? How many of those same citizens would shoot the wrong person if caught up in a mass shooting spree?
        Other methods of defense or preparedness shouldn’t be overlooked while guns are made out to be “the answer”.


      • Those are good questions, Janna. And I hope that someone does some scientific research into those questions. Unfortunately questions without answers don’t mean much. I don’t know if this was your intention, but just “throwing the question out there” is often used to insinuate something that is not backed up by the facts. Conspiracy Theorists do that a lot. And when called on it they often just respond with, “I’m just asking questions!”. Well, fortunately we have answers to your questions…

        We do know is that some people will defend themselves, and we saw that in the news a couple of days ago when a family was taken hostage by an escaped Mississippi inmate. In fact, something like this happens many times a week. You can find more news stories here: https://www.reddit.com/r/dgu/

        As for well meaning people who shoot the wrong person during a mass shooting… Mass shootings happen infrequently (relative to the 30k gun deaths every year) and are well documented, and it should not be difficult for a college student or armchair researcher to find the number of people shot by “the good guy”. I’ll bet you that the number is very low.

        I agree 100% with you that other methods of defense should not be overlooked. We also need to look into methods of gun control that might actually make a real difference.


  3. […] People argue that you can be a safe user of alcohol, why can't someone be a safe user of a gun? https://davidkessner.wordpress.com/20…d-gun-control/ __________________ CLICK ME […]


  4. Enlightening


  5. Nice way to spin the facts. The purpose of a gun is not just to kill. There is target shooting, put food on the table, yes that is a form of killing but one must eat to survive. The fact is that more people are killed by cars than guns, and we don’t see you anti gun nuts advocating against cars, must be because you use a car. Does the word hypocrite mean anything to you?


  6. So many holes in this logic…and many of the comments! Cars/vehicles are registered, licensed(annually) and in some cases inspected. There are laws governing the construction(seat belts, safety glass, crumple zones…) and use of vehicles. Larger more dangerouse vehicles require different licenses. The drivers are tested and licensed – and licenses must be renewed. Most states require insurance for cars used on public roads. All of this for safety. Why not the same for guns? Make them less dangerous, require certification. Require users to be trained and tested. Require licensing and renewals with inspections. Vehicle laws have evolved. Vehicle operator laws have evolved….gun(both construction and use) laws are just not keeping up.


    • If you want to enter into a productive discussion then do so! Specify exactly what I said, and explain how I was incorrect. But just saying that there are lots of holes and then not being specific about what/where is is not helpful.


    • Leroy, with all that regulation we still have 10k killed each year by dui. 325 by “assault” rifles. Wow, how’s that regulation working oh, and driving isn’t a right, it’s a privilege.


  7. Go shot yourself, asshole


    • You are clearly an intellectual giant.



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