To the Editor: Imagine that almost anyone over the age of 18 could buy a brand-new automobile, even a high-performance race car, for less than $2,000 and drive it off the lot without a driver’s license or any experience whatsoever behind the wheel. Imagine this novice, and millions of other people, being allowed to drive anywhere at any speed because speed limits, traffic lights, and stop signs do not exist, or there is rarely any penalty for ignoring them. Cars would not be registered or insured.
They never would be inspected. Mufflers, catalytic converters and seat belts would not be required. It would be even cheaper and easier to buy a used car.
Traffic accidents and fatalities would soar, of course. Air and noise pollution would proliferate. Driving to the store or taking the kids to soccer practice would be far more dangerous. Imagine that demented individuals frequently use their cars to deliberately kill people, even children, in school yards, shopping malls, concert venues and workplaces. An outraged public increasingly demands common sense regulation of automobiles. Politicians, often the recipients of enormous campaign contributions from the auto industry, offer condolences and prayers to the families of victims, but gravely warn that any regulations would be a “slippery slope” toward socialism. Conservative talk show hosts shout that the liberals are coming for our cars. Car rights groups intone that “cars don’t kill people, people kill people.” Car rights advocates insist that the Founding Fathers, who got around on foot or horseback, intended that cars must be totally unregulated.
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? If we were foolish enough to allow the nearly 300 million cars in America to be operated so haphazardly, even the most strident libertarians would think we had lost our minds. But there are far more guns than cars in the U.S. today and this is how we deal with them.