Here’s two interesting charts. The first shows gun related deaths in Australia over the past few years
The graph reveals that around 238 people died via firearms in 2016. The stats don’t tell us how these people died, but not all would have been via murder.The stats don’t tell us how many incidents were officially classified as being an act of terrorism.
The next graph reveals car related deaths in Australia over the past few years
The graph reveals that around 1,500 people die via the automobile each year on Australian roads.
Cars account for over 6 times the number of fatalities in Australia each year over guns.
Statistically, cars (or more specifically, their drivers) are more deadly than guns (or, more specifically, those who shoot them).
Now consider the relative paranoia devoted to curtailing excesses from the use of both these instruments of ‘death’ (guns and cars).
Imagine if some bureaucrat proposed to advance gun safety by painting lines on the ground to separate gun users from the general public as a primary control. Imagine all those happy public campers: kids, walkers, runners, old folk, all doing their thing on one side of the line while shooters did their shooting a metre or so away via the safety of a painted white safety line. Not likely eh! But that is precisely the kind of inanity that these same bureaucrats have inflicted as a primary safety instrument through which to separate murderous car drivers from insanely vulnerable cyclists all trying to share the same road. A painted line, is, apparently an OK safety measure through which to separate car drivers and cyclists. But not shooters from the public. Despite the fact that the death rates inflicted by car drivers is more than 6 times that inflicted by shooters.
And let us not forget the very latest trend in official terrorism circles: the use of cars to intentionally plough through pedestrians as a deliberate act of murder. Consider the furore over gun control after all those shooting incidents in American schools. Look at the venom aimed at just the one company, Vista Outdoors, manufacturer of ammunition and supporter of the the National Rifle Association in the USA. Vista also owns Giro and Bell, two of the worlds largest bicycle helmet makers. Both these bicycle accessory makers have been boycotted by the public for their association with their parent company.
But did anyone consider boycotting whatever car maker made the cars that deliberately ploughed through pedestrian precincts in recent times? Nope.
In all my years of being around guns (which, in rural Australia, is quite a bit of being around guns), I have only ever observed one episode of gross stupidity (a person pointing a loaded shot gun around the place claiming his trigger was dodgy – that person was quickly controlled!)
In all my years of being around cars as a cyclist who rides 25,000km pear year (as in, being passed by, passed into by, abused via, cut of by, run off the road by, tailgated by and generally, terrorised by car drivers), I have generally observed at least one moronic car driver exhibit of psychopathy every single ride, which means, every single day.
For everyday ordinary Australians (which means, non-cyclists), cars are 6 times more deadly an instrument of death than guns. For cyclists, the assault of car driver terrorism is vastly greater.
I can’t help thinking that it is actually safer for us cyclists to ride alongside a rifle range than a highway.
I can’t help wonder at the current culture of aggrieved horror and disapproval aimed at shooters by the general public and public opinion makers these days. These days, gun owners keep their passions secret to avoid marganalisation or worse. Car drivers, though, happily wash their instruments of death and terror in the street. They even get their kids to help out. They even allow their kids to ride in their tin boxes of carnage. Just imagine what would happen if a kid even looked in the general direction of someone polishing a gun at home! Child abuse at best…
And let’s not forget the rather asymmetric training and licensing arrangements that pertain to guns vs cars. To get a firearm, you need a licence and to get a licence, you need to proclaim a good reason for having one. Basically, if you are not a farmer, and you want a gun, you will have issues.
Do we need to present ‘good reason for wanting to drive a car’ as part of the process for applying for a driver’s licence? (Now, there’s an idea…)
Do we need to lock our cars away in a cabinet with at least two locks via two different keys? Do we need to drain our car’s petrol tank after each use and store that petrol in a separate safe?
Are we prohibited from taking our car out in public unless its to take said car off to some controlled venue partitioned off from the public (I wish).
Do we need to log our purchases of fuel on a police controlled register every time we fill our car’s tank?
Clearly, most readers will be thinking that my arguments here are inane, if not insane. In our culture, cars and driving are a right, a necessity, a passion and an unquestioned backbone of the social fabric. Consider this. When we build a new house, why do we devote around one third of that space to housing our car? Why are we prepared to devote one third of that mortgage to accommodating a car and maybe only 20 percent to accomodate our kids (cars take up more room than the kids under the roof of most houses these days). Why are we so complacent with the astounding carnage cars inflict on our public spaces through parking and parking infrastructure? Why do we build cities around cars rather than people? Have we all gone mad?!
Compare all that with the furtive timidity of gun owners who secrete their instruments of apparent terrorism in cabinets behind closed doors or keep their guns covered like lepers in shrouds when heading off to the range or the paddock.
If my argument still doesn’t do it for you, here’s another approach. Go out for a drive on a rural road. Anywhere. Drive along and notice all the road kill. Kangaroo after kangaroo. Possums, echidnas, birds, snakes, wombats (and maybe cyclists): if it moves, it’s likely to end up dead beside the road. All this carnage is via car drivers and their tin boxes of death. Not one carcass would be from cyclists! If all that stinking residue of death and destruction does not reveal a ‘lived experience’ of the murderous character of cars and their drivers, you must be seriously deranged. And that’s just what cars and their drivers inflict on non-humans. Non-human car kills don’t even rate a mention in the car carnage statistics.
Governments don’t classify all this car driver caused carnage as a scenario of terrorism because no one would vote for them if they did. Or maybe even the perception of cars-as-death can’t take hold in a society that has elevated the car to the status of obsessive reverence. It’s all a bit like a cargo cult. Or a religion. We worship cars. We build our societies around them. And many of those disciples don’t and won’t tolerate anything or anyone who disrupts that flow of reverence, like, say, cyclists – who dare to demand equal space on our roads of automotive worship. Nope, it’s a lot easier to marginalise cyclists and consider them as prospective roadkill. After all, car drivers who kill cyclists rarely if ever face penalties worse than a fine.
I wonder if someone might consider marketing holsters for guns that fit on bikes? That would mess up a few pre-conceptions and social memes out there…