“The truth is known, obvious and inarguable. It cannot be said too clearly, and it cannot be said too often: guns make gun violence happen, gun-control laws make it stop.” – Adam Gopnik via After the Navy Yard Shooting: Why This No Time to Despair About Gun Control : The New Yorker.
That the above quote appears in “The New Yorker” is no surprise. Still, the thought that someone who considers himself to be of at least average intelligence would write it, let alone say it with a straight face, is hard to believe. The usual sarcastic retort would be to suggest that cars cause car-violence. But, the unfortunate reality is that people like Gopnik would say, “Yes! The truth is known, obvious, and inarguable…”
We’ve said before that violence is violence. That violence is either lawful, or unlawful. Guns are merely a tool through which that violence is committed. Violence can be committed through the use of many tools. The concept of “gun violence” is made up to justify the vilification of the tool, rather than the actor. But curiously, the logic is not applied with regard to violence committed with other tools. We don’t talk about “bomb violence” even though the Boston Marathon Bombing earlier this year was clearly an act of unlawful violence.
Like wise, when Nathan Campbell decided to drive his car down a crowded sidewalk in Venice Beach in August, no one railed against “car-violence” even though that wasn’t the first or the last time such a crime has occurred. The fact is, he committed violence, and it was unlawful, period. He willfully, knowingly, aimed to injure and kill as many people as he could for no reason other than he felt like it. His tool of choice happened to be a car. Miriam Carey, committed unlawful violence when she ran over at least one police officer during her vehicular rampage through DC last week. Or what about Alexian Lien who clearly, knowingly and willfully plowed through a group of bikers to get away from an impending attack…The Range Rover was decidedly used to commit violence but, it may in fact be lawful violence.
Obviously, these cases are just random oddities among the 30,000 or more cases of drunk, reckless, distracted driving incidents in which people are killed every year. And of course, the total number of such fatalities is small in comparison to the literally, millions, injured annually. The almost routine drive by shootings that occur in places like Los Angeles, California don’t count toward these totals but, it is hard to deny that a car is a tool used to commit violence in such cases. Yet we do not see calls to ban cars or campaigns against car-violence.
The reason we don’t see such campaigns is because we recognize that cars nearly all of us own do not (yet) drive themselves and they do not operate with free will. So it is the people operating those cars who are at fault. As such, we do not seek to punish other drivers for the actions of the Nathan Campbells, Miriam Careys, or Alexian Liens of the world by arguing that one should not be allowed to buy Dodge Avengers, Infinity G37s, or Land Rover Range Rovers because they were used to run over people. We do not demand background checks of anyone buying a car. Instead, we clearly recognize that it is not the cars themselves that are at fault. The truth is known, obvious, and inarguable…The problem clearly lies with those operating said cars. But, then again, people like Adam Gopnik might just believe a guy like me shouldn’t be able to buy a pickup without submitting fingerprints, a blood test, and proving that I need it.