The NRA and Guns, versus Driving Regulations

The NRA and Guns, versus Driving Regulations

We start by comparing the modes of operation of the National Rifle Association versus the American Automobile Association. What brought this to mind is that as the NRA associated discounts come to light, it reminded me of the many discounts available through the AAA. Yet I have a much better feeling about the AAA than the NRA, as I am sure many people also do.

Oddly enough, the annual death toll from Guns and from Auto accidents is about the same, about 33,000. Of the gun deaths, the great tragedy is that 19,000 a year are from suicides by mentally troubled or depressed individuals. Suicide attempts by other means usually fail, whereas suicides by guns are almost always fatal. Unfortunately, the opioid crises is now recording twice the death rate as guns or autos, or equal to their sum. Unfortunately also, President Trump has done nothing in his first year to work on this or provide extra funding.

Society, governments, and the AAA are always working to make driving safer and to reduce highway fatalities. A lot of money is spent every year on this. On the gun side, the NRA is always fighting to avoid reducing gun deaths. Even this week, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA head, was adamant at the CPAC conference that nothing be done to restrict gun rights or gun purchases.

You cannot drive a car without a license, which requires driving school, followed by passing a written test, followed by passing a driving test. Every few years you have to pass a new written test to get a license renewal. In California, new drivers cannot drive with another passenger under 21 during your first year, unless an adult over 25 is present. You must have 50 hours of driving with an adult or an instructor before you can drive on your own. After age 18 you are like any other driver. All drivers must have auto insurance, which cover damage and medical care to other drivers. Accidents among young drivers occur three times as often as among mature drivers. They are also the leading cause of death among young people. Any traffic violations will require fines, and possible suspension of your license.

Wayne LaPierre and the NRA of course oppose the banning of AR-15 semi-automatic assault type weapons. But they are also opposing raising the age needed to buy such weapons to 21 from 18. Handguns cannot be purchased until age 21, but traditionally rifles or shot-guns, which have very limited bullet capacities and aren’t concealable, could be purchased at 18. AR-15 style weapons slipped into this category, but are clearly much deadlier than even handguns. Psychologists know that the brain is not even completely developed among young people until the age of 25. They are much more mature and able to cope with the complexities of society. That is why you cannot often rent from an auto rental company until you are 25 or over. Yet you can buy AR-15s and large magazines at age 18 with no training, no tests, no supervision, no licensing, and no insurance for damage or injury that they may cause to others. We have already seen in the case of the 19 year old Cruz in Florida, that their are no sufficient mental health laws to allow seizure of his more than 10 guns, despite a plethora of warnings.

What outsiders just learned, is that NRA members can buy insurance protecting them from being sued by damages that they cause.

While gun manufacturers and dealers pay to support the NRA in its immovable stand for all gun rights, to my knowledge, there are no comparable organizations funded by auto manufacturers or car dealers to lessen legal restrictions on drivers, or bash car safety regulations. Granted, auto manufacturers do oppose new safety requirements because of their costs and possible effects on car sales. But the public does welcome safer autos, and auto companies do most of their work through secret lobbying.

Every year auto makers come up with new safety features: rear view cameras, side view cameras, front collision warning, and automatic parking. Every year the NRA is pushing more dangerous laws and accessories: bump stocks, silencers, concealed carry permits on demand, and countrywide recognition of concealed carry permits from the most permissive states.

President Trump is front and center the most enthusiastic supporter of the NRA, garnering $31 million in their support during his election. He immediately canceled the restriction of not selling guns to the mentally ill on the Social Security Administrations list. Guns can now also be sold to those on the terrorist watch list, and on the no-fly list.

While the NRA claims a biblical right to self defense, this is the way evolution has worked since life began. But that should actually work against the NRA. We all have the right to protect our kids and ourselves from unrestrained users of military assault weapons, by banning them. We also have the right to license and screen and require training from anybody who might want to purchase such weapons. The number of cases where the AR-15 is actually needed for self-defense is minimal. Probably only members of a warring drug cartel really need them.

People can privately sell cars to another, but there is the official certificate of ownership and registration that have to be exchanged. After that, the sale has to be filed within ten days, and a new registration obtained from the DMV. This is in sharp contrast to guns, where private sales and sales at gun shows by private parties are not given background checks, or registered. Cars have to be given a smog check within 90 days before the sale to make sure that they are safe for the environment. No guarantees or inspections of operational safety are required for a gun sale.

Auto registration and ownership is handled by computer, and all records are kept. The government is not allowed to keep computer records to perform background checks on gun sales. That is why ten days is needed for a thorough background check, not just three days or no days. This anomaly in the computer age is imposed by the NRA and its congressional lackeys.

While the CDC and government agencies are allowed to freely study automobile safety and rate automobiles for safety, the CDC is forbidden by a policy rider called the Dickey amendment since 1996 from studying gun safety. It is hard to find up to date surveys on guns on the web. The data often has to go back two decades. Nothing stops there being up-to-date data on auto accidents and safety, which is also a key to establishing programs for safer driving.

With the recent occurrence of auto terrorism attacks, police now normally install barriers to auto access to crowds or parades. The simplest ones are of hollow plastic and are filled with water when installed. Yet the NRA is succeeding in getting its lackey states to allow concealed carry to more and more large audience events.

Autos are universally needed but much better regulated than much more deadly guns that aren’t really needed. So what is the moral to this story? It’s time to stop giving the NRA and gun manufacturers and private gun purchasers a free ride. This also has to include unscreened concealed carry permits.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
This entry was posted in American Carnage, Assault Weapons, Autos, Donald Trump, Gun Control, Guns, Politics, Regulations, Trump Administration. Bookmark the permalink.

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