Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Costs of Violence Are High, Regardless of the Implement

I got a tweet via Mark Follman of Mother Jones, telling a specific story about a pair of martial artists senselessly shot and badly injured in Arizona, destroying their lives as they knew them. Moving from the specific to the general, MJ tells us that the costs of gun violence to Americans is about 230 billion dollars a year.

Likewise if you look up numbers on the costs of car crashes, you get very similar results. A NHTSA article puts the 2010 cost of car crashes at about 242 billion dollars. A USA Today source extrapolates on the basis of economic and social costs, about 870 billion dollars for the same year. One can mess with either sets of numbers, depending on what you include in direct or indirect costs to the public, but they are pretty big ones.

I won't quibble with numbers.  These two examples of violence include deliberate acts done to others, accidents, and self-destructive acts. Therefore these numbers conflate homicides and other crimes committed with firearms, DWI, reckless and careless driving and other acts performed with autos, suicides using guns and "traffic accidents" not due to deliberate misbehavior.  What is important is we end up with broadly similar costs, whether expressed in greenbacks or grief. People who have been affected by gun violence tend to concentrate on reducing gun violence. People who have been impacted by car violence are motivated to reduce car violence. Vested interests such as the NRA or National Motorists Association protect their sacred cows and push back on controls. That said, not all suggestions for controls are bright ideas or politically feasible.

Seems to me we need to bring ourselves together and push back on society's acceptance of low standards of citizenship, lack of concern for others, and high tolerance for violence, whether caused by gunpowder or gasoline. I fail to be persuaded that there is much of a difference in violent death between the two after seeing, firsthand, the people represented by those two crosses below die on the road in front of me. I gave up hunting (and eating meat) when I took a bad shot and had to finish off at close range a terrified and struggling deer with a shattered pelvis.  Cars are meant as lawful transportation. Guns are meant to shoot bullets at lawful targets. Bottom line is that neither guns nor cars are sold to Americans so they can be be misused to endanger the public.

With both cars and guns, we have higher unintended death rates than a fair number of other first world countries. I think it is time to take a time out and figure out if we really need to be competing for that honor, stop shouting past each other with excuses, and find workable and legally defensible means of harm reduction.

Two crosses by the NM-4 and 502 interchange. I watched the two motorcyclists memorialized by these crosses die after being hit head on by a wrong way driver at an impact speed of about 100 mph. (I drove off the road to avoid a crash but the motorist hit the motorcyclists on a curve).

Neil Allen Smith, minimum wage dishwasher at a seafood restaurant. An Invisible Rider killed by a hit and run motorist

Former Tucson US House Rep. Gabby Giffords before being shot and badly injured by a lunatic.
"After" picture is here.

1 comment:

Chandra@GreenComotion said...

"find workable and legally defensible means of harm reduction" - Amen Khal.
Have a Happy Day!
Peace :)