The president and vice president have both repeatedly urged that their gun control ideas should be enacted because “if it saves one life, it's worth trying”. Beneath the president's Clintonesque lip-biting and soaring, emotional tone, the suggestion is embarrassingly sophomoric. So, in the same vein I present here my suggestions for saving far more than ONE life.
Firearms homicide and accidents account for approximately 17,000 deaths each year, roughly 400 of those are rifles and shotguns. I'm not counting suicides with firearms because, to be frank, if someone wants to kill him or herself they will find a way, gun or not. They are tragic, sure, but I don't particularly care about those numbers.
Deaths resulting from motor vehicle accidents, roughly 42,000 per year, are the number one cause of death for children 5-14 and young people 15-24 and it ranks number three among children under age five. Clearly there is much that can be done here. We are Americans. We are better than this. For starters, we need to raise the driving age to 21. Studies show younger drivers are more prone to reckless driving, speeding, driving drunk, and fatal car crashes. We need to fingerprint and run background checks on applicants for drivers licenses. If a person is convicted of a vehicular crime like drunk driving, manslaughter, or murder, or if they use a car in the commission of a violent crime, their drivers license should be revoked permanently. We should also work to eliminate high capacity vehicles, so when an accident does occur, fewer people will be injured or killed. We're not talking about taking away your cars, here. Just common sense reforms that will save lives.
If we imposed a national speed limit of 30 miles per hour think how many more we could save. Most cars are crash-tested rated based on 35 MPH impacts. Any vehicle with an air dam, fins, racing stripes, spoilers, or which is capable of driving speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour should be designated a “sports car.” These sports cars would only be allowed to be sold by Federally licensed dealers, and purchases would require that the driver register with the Federal government, pass a background check (meaning they were never convicted of a serious vehicular crime), and pay a tax of 5% of the vehicle's sticker price of $2000, whichever is higher. The private sale loophole would have to be closed, to prevent private individuals from selling “sports cars” without a background check. We should also do more to prevent parents from acting as “straw purchasers” of “sports cars” for their college-aged kids.
We should also work to pass legislation to ban radios, televisions, GPS devices, and other tech that can distract drivers. Cell phone use and texting while driving should be a Federal crimes.
But…but…but…Guns Are Designed to Kill People!
But wait, the gun haters reply, cars are not designed to kill people, guns are! No, guns are designed to fire a projectile from point A to point B. Some people choose to misuse guns for crime. Some drivers do the same with cars. Honestly, who NEEDS a car that can comfortably seat seven and can travel faster than 30 miles per hour?
Falls account for roughly 25,000 deaths each year in the U.S., again, much higher than the rate for firearms. We should limit the size of people's homes and the height of staircases. Who NEEDS a two story house, anyway? We need mandatory safety training for purchases of ladders larger than 5-feet tall. Homes with staircases higher than five steps would have to be modified to reduce the size of the staircases. You should have to pass a clumsiness test to be able to purchase a ladder. And, if we can't ban them we should at least require special permits to allow people to go sky-diving, base jumping, para-sailing, and rock climbing. Trapeze and high-wire acts, like Cirque du Soliel should be banned. We should invest heavily in research to develop robots to replace window washers and other high-altitude repair and construction jobs.
Alcohol-related deaths number nearly 27,000 each year in the United States, nearly double the number for firearms. Yet alcohol is still legal in America. Why? Obviously if we ban alcoholic beverages we'd save lives and make our streets safer, right? Look how well it worked in the 1920s! But corrupt politicians, who cared more about alcohol than they cared about kids, gave in to the powerful alcohol lobby and ended prohibition. If we don't have the political will to re-instate the Alcohol Ban, we should put common-sense alcohol controls in place. Alcohol retailers should be Federally licensed, and purchases should be registered and a background check required for each sale. If the background check discovers that the buyer has previously been convicted of an alcohol-related crime, like drunk driving, the sale should be stopped and the drinker charged with a Federal offence and sentenced to a 10-year prison sentence. Drinkers should be limited to one purchase per month or should have a five-day waiting period between drinks. High capacity bottles should be banned as well. Who NEEDS more than a shot of alcohol once a month?
13% of all homicides, roughly 2000 total, are committed with knives or cutting instruments. Clearly we are better than this. A legal age to purchase or own a knife should be set at, you guessed it, 21. Background checks should be required for anyone attempting to purchase steak knives, table knives, butcher knives, machetes, pocket knives, any fixed blade knife longer than 2-inches, pruning shears, and knitting needles. High capacity knife sets should be banned, and a five day waiting period should be imposed between knife purchases. Need a new set of steak knives in time for your big cookout? You'd better start buying them months in advance.
Each year 3,500 people die from accidental drowning. We should set the legal swimming age at 21, require swimmers to provide proof that they have taken Federally approved swimming lessons before allowing them to swim in public pools or National Parks. We should create a national registry of pool owners and hold the pool owners criminally liable if anyone drowns in their private pool. We should impose a pool tax and require homeowners to take swimming lessons from Federally licensed professional trainers before allowing them to install a pool or buy a house with a pool. Pools with more than 3-feet of water should be restricted without a $200 per foot tax stamp. Bath tubs should be limited to depths of no more than six inches.
Roughly 2,700 people die in fires each year. It should be against the law to live in a home without fire extinguishers and fire alarms. The government should mandate that they be installed in all new homes. Perhaps we could add fire alarm installation to the government program that weatherizes older homes, saving lives and electricity. Some 450 people die each year in fires caused by smoking. Clearly we need to ban smoking in people's homes. If it saves just one life, it's worth trying, right?
Poisoning is the second leading killer in the United States each year, accounting for nearly 40,000 deaths. Interestingly, it's not toddlers getting into the Drano under the kitchen sink, either. The vast majority of victims are between ages 25 and 45 and the poisons are drugs: pain medications, cocaine, and heroin. We need to ban cocaine and heroine, for one thing…oh, wait…
The Federal government could provide states and cities with funding assistance to run “buyback” programs. These programs would allow owners to sell their “high capacity” cars, “sports cars”, multi-story houses, and houses with swimming pools and get them off the market.
The Simple Truth
All but the abortion idea are put forth with tongue firmly in cheek. But the truth is that all of these suggestions, as crazy as some of them are, would actually save lives — and more than just one. An “assault weapons” ban and a “high capacity” magazine ban would not. In each case, though, the cost to our liberties is greater than the perceived good being done. Even in the case of Abortion. Abortion, like many other issues that the courts have corrupted, should be decided at the state level.
The “saving one life” theme is clearly the most simplistic, idiotic rationale for public policy every concocted. It has an emotional tug that shallow thinkers can grasp and agree with, without having to do deal with hard concepts like logic. Most liberals would reject my suggestions as needless government intrusion into our private lives, while failing to see that infringing upon our Second Amendment rights is just as needless and intrusive.