Skin In The Game

Common sense says I shouldn’t do this, but as a registered contrarian I can’t help myself. The school shooting the other day has sparked plenty of emotion, and for good reason. It’s hard to fathom such evil striking with such randomness. I can’t picture what I would feel finding out a loved one or friend was taken for no reason.

In the heat of such emotion it’s understandable to lash out and want to take action. And it’s always easy to take action against something when you have no skin in the game. As Jules says in Pulp Fiction, “well, allow me to retort”.

Starting at age 16 (or younger) we operate motor vehicles that weigh more than 3,000 pounds, often driving them 30-40 miles an hour in town mere feet away fromĀ  accidentpedestrians. We hurtle 70-80 miles an hour on the freeways. These monstrosities kill 37,000+ people a year. That’s 100 PEOPLE A DAY being killed. An average of 2000 of those are children. There are about 5.4 million vehicle accidents per year. Records estimate that there have been 3.6 million vehicle fatalities in the US since the advent of the automobile. Motor vehicle accidents are estimated to cost the US $100 billion a year.

Despite training, licensing, and testing, we continue to murder our fellow citizens. We drive drunk. We text and talk on the phone while driving. We drive too fast for conditions. Common sense says that if we have something that’s killing 100 people a day, shouldn’t we be marching on our state capitals and demanding our legislators take action? What sort of monster doesn’t care about 2,000 children a year being needlessly killed? Where are all the Facebook memes?

It would be appropriate to lower the speed limits to 15-20 mph on any city road. No more than 40 mph on freeways. Require annual requalification and background checks. Massively increase registration fees to pay for statewide safety measures. Caught with a phone that’s turned on should require jail time. A DUI means permanent loss of driving privileges. All vehicles must be retrofitted with breathalyzer devices in order to start. Increase the driving age to 21.

There would be a massive uproar across this nation if any of that were proposed. Why? Because it would personally impact your life. It’s easy to be judgmental when the actions you want won’t effect you. *

There are 300+ million guns in this country. As much as you may like to, you cannot put that genie back in the bottle. Virtually every criminal shooting is done with guns acquired outside the system. As in, they didn’t follow the laws and regulations. Shocking, I know. All the laws and regulations that get proposed after each mass shooting would not have prevented any of them from happening. Why? They either got their guns illegally, the system failed massively (as was with this latest one), or there were huge mental health red flags that were either missed or resources weren’t available.

I don’t know what the answer is. You could send the military to every home in the country to search and seize all guns, but I have a sneaking suspicion that wouldn’t go so well. We could choose to stop spending trillions overseas on silly wars and devote some of that money to mental health services in this country. And to ensure that the existing laws and systems and agencies we already have actually do their job. Or we can choose to let the Tide Pod eating generation drive legislation that only impacts normal law abiding folks.

It’s not an easy issue. Guns aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and I get that. But don’t get caught up in the sensationalism that is modern media. Because if you’re not fired up about 100 PEOPLE A DAY being killed by vehicles… aren’t you being just a tad hypocritical? (and I know you wouldn’t knowingly watch a movie or TV show that sensationalized guns, right?) You have every right to do what’s right for you and yours, and if guns aren’t for you I respect that. I choose to have the option to protect my family when the flesh eating zombie apocalypse comes.


* I spent at least twenty minutes trying to figure affect vs. effect. I’m still not sure in this context. Grammar is not my strong suite. I’m comma-happy and I know it.