This is a favorite of our opposition, so it’s not surprising that Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times tries to make an analogy that’s so incredibly bereft of any subject matter knowledge of either side of the analogy, it renders the entire point utterly ridiculous. A proper analogy to the assault weapons issue, turned to cars, would be relabeling sports cars as “death vehicles.” Let me write a hypothetical newspaper article, using the correct analogy.
After a series of high profile, mutli-car accidents, which have caused dozens of fatalities, the environmental group American Council to Ban Automobiles has renamed itself in honor Ashley Brandy, a nine year old girl, killed when the minivan her mother was driving collided at high speed with a so-called “death vehicle.” Now named the Brandy Campaign to Prevent Automobile Fatalities, the group plans an aggressive lobbying campaign to ban these types of death vehicles in Congress. Several years ago, citing environmental concerns, ACBA proposed outlawing all vehicles capable of exceeding 65 miles per hour. That proposal met with cool reception in the halls of Congress. While polling showed lukewarm support among the public for banning automobiles that can exceed 65 miles per hour, it has shown that the public does support laws to limit the availability of death vehicles. Advocates have pointed out these cars have no purpose other than to drive at unsafe speeds, and risk killing other motorists.
Several years ago, California became the first state in the nation to outlaw death vehicles. Similar to the California law, the bill currently being advanced in Congress will ban certain excessively fast automobiles by name. Congress has also, much like their California counterparts, examined features common to these cars, and banned certain combinations of features from appearing on vehicles. Under the current bill it will be unlawful to manufacture, sell, or transfer an automobile with any two of the following features:
- Air scoops
- Low profile tires,
- Body panels made of 60% or more composite material by volume
- Bright red body color
- Rotating headlights
- Three or fewer passenger seats.
Congress has also, at the urging of The Brandy Campaign, added a section to the bill that limits any automobile with V or higher rated tires from having an internal gasoline tank greater than five gallons. “We believe this is an important aspect of the bill,” said Saul Henke, a spokesman for the Brandy Campaign, “This way even if someone drives his death machine at an unsafe speed, he or she won’t be able travel very far before having to stop to refuel, giving authorities or other motorists a chance to catch up and intervene.”
Mr. Henke also expressed concerns that the proposed law does not go far enough. “Because the bill doesn’t ban certain engine configurations, manufactures may easily skirt these restrictions, and continue to make dangerously fast cars. We’ve been working with our allies in Congress in an attempt to close this dangerous loophole.”
Sports car enthusiasts, along with the National Motorists Association, have been attempting to fight the ban. “Sports cars are driven responsibly by millions of Americans every day, and enthusiasm for these machines is as American as Apple Pie,” said NMA Executive Vice President Duane LaPerrier, “The notion that these vehicles have no purpose than driving at dangerous speeds and killing families in minivans is ludicrous.” When asked why anyone had a need for a car that could drive so fast, LaPerrier pointed out, “You’ll still have fast cars, even with this ban. The only thing this will accomplish is putting good people in jail, for such things as adding a fiberglass panel to their car, or buying a spoiler with low profile tires.”
The Brandy Campaign dismissed the idea, noting “Ordinary motorists have nothing to fear from this bill. By banning these deadly cars, we’ll save the lives of hundreds of children in this country. Over 33,000 people die in automobile accidents each year, many of them children.” The NMA has called for better enforcement of the nation’s traffic laws, and harsh penalties for those who drive automobiles irresponsibly. Critics have pointed out that the National Motorist Association has ties to the automobile industry, and represents only a fraction of American Drivers.
Pundits believe the Ashley Brandy Automotive Safety Act will be passed by Congress at the end of the year. The President made banning death vehicles part of his platform, so proponents of automobile safety should be getting a Christmas present from Congress that’s sure to warm their holidays.
That, Mr. Kristof, is how it’s done. And looking at it that way, do you see why people who enjoy sports cars responsibly might be a little insulted, and a little upset? Do you get now why gun owners take advocacy for these laws very personally? This article sounds like it was written in Bizarro world, and in the real world people would laugh any such proposal out of Congress, but that’s exactly what the assault weapons debate is, in the context of cars. What’s the difference? Everyone is familiar with automobiles and driving. Not everyone is familiar with guns, including many people who own them.