On not Getting Killed on the Way Home

On my way riding home from the grocery store this morning, I was on the North side of the P street sidewalk headed West in Georgetown, between 31st and Wisconsin. Why the sidewalk, when that part of P street is pretty flat, if not downhill, so I wouldn’t hold up traffic? Because for idiotic historical reasons, on Sundays, parking is allowed on both sides of P street, making it nigh-well impossible terrifying for two cars to pass one another, so adding a bicycle to the mix sounded like a ticket to the ER.

32nd street intersects P street on the right, at a three-way stop, and is a one way street headed into P (ie do not enter).

So I’m just about to cross that intersection when some jerk decides to back up onto 32nd street nearly running me over so that I have to swerve to stop (glad I didn’tendo!). I raised my hands and hollered “what the hell do you think you’re doing?!” to which the response I got from the man driving was a rude gesture (no response from the female passenger), as he then forwarded on and drove away- you see this was a reverse U-turn, because apparently this idiot hadn’t ever learned that in the city one just circles the block to do that, or turns around at an actual intersection, or at least if you’re going to do something illegal at least make sure you’re not going to kill someone.

So. As if I needed more than coffee to get me going this morning.

(dons flame-retardant undies)

There has been a tremendous amount of discussion about gun control in the aftermath of the terrible events in Sandy Hook. I don’t write policy, and I don’t precisely know what, if anything, should be done. However, I think that some statistics may be useful to note (I’m using 2009 because of completeness of data available from awesomely reliable sources):

In 2009, there were 11,493 people killed by firearms (excluding suicides, but including accidents), which is a number big enough to worry about, but does not crack the top 20 causes of death (assault by all means is #18, but that’s 18k people). The source for this is the CDC factbook.

By comparison, in 2009, according to the US Census, 33,808 people were killed in automobile fatalities (moving, not suffocation suicides). Of those, 17,640, or about half, we’re the drivers, which means that drivers killed 16,168 people who were not driving at the time – roughly analogous to those being killed by any other deadly weapon.

Given these two numbers, shouldn’t we be spending three times more time and effort being worried about the multi-ton deadly weapons which are controlled by people with extremely poor judgement than we are about firearms, which honestly are a tough nut, given the specific constitutional protection and long American tradition of ownership? As a statistical measure of public health concerns, it’s clear that cars are a far bigger problem than guns – so I’d give a lot of credit to any politician who acknowledges this fact before making whatever policy proposals they make. It would certainly make me more likely to think they were dealing in an intellectually honest manner.

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About thegameiam
I'm a network engineer, musician, and Orthodox Jew who opines on things which cross my path.

One Response to On not Getting Killed on the Way Home

  1. Foxfier says:

    Also from the same year, accidental deaths from firearms were about half of the number of women dying in childbirth. And child-bearing deaths can’t be largely fixed by basic education. (Ever notice that the accidental shooting stories are almost always “a teenager who did not live in the house treated a deadly weapon like a toy”?)

    Defensive killings are also counted as homicides, unless specifically sorted out for the FBI. I’m sure you heard about the gal and her two little kids who were aimed to join the bludgeoned-to-death-with-a-crowbar stat…until mom shot the SOB five of six times, in the chest and neck, four exit wounds and the still was in good enough shape to drive away. (Reminds me, I need to get my home defense/mushrooming bullets into my CC rig.)

    Third point, coming off the second point, non-homicidal-maniacs having guns means fewer deaths during mass killings. In the Portland mall shooting, it was stopped by a guy who had his concealed carry rig. (When heard about the shooting, I assumed it was some sort of vengeance because– two dead and one injured? That’s “I’m killing my girlfriend and someone got in the way” type numbers… and then we find out that the guy killed himself when he faced resistance.) In the theater shooting the weekend after, in Texas, it was stopped by an off duty cop who worked at the theater and had a weapon on her.

    You don’t fix theft by making it harder for people to keep their stuff, you fix theft by making it so people can do more to protect themselves. You don’t fix murder with the best weapon around by making it illegal for law-abiders to use it defensively– we outnumber the bad guys, after all– you make it as little of an advantage as possible.

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