the right to own and drive cars.

Forty thousand people die on American highways every year. Do we just shrug that number off as the price of freedom?

Why is it perfectly legal to buy a 500HP Corvette capable of 180MPH top speeds in a country where no state has a legal speed limit higher than 75 or 80MPH? And you can buy those irresponsible death machines without a license, or any proof of mental or physical competence to handle a high-performance sports car. Give me a good reason why we shouldn’t ban those things?

We can start with sensible car control and ban cars with “racing style” features first. If it has any two of the features listed below, it’s a racing-style car and has no place on civilized streets:

  • Front or rear spoilers (whether add-on or molded into the bodywork)
  • Hood scoop
  • Decals
  • Five-point harness (no reason for those unless you intend to wreck at high speeds)
  • Tailpipes with a diameter of larger than <$ARBITRARY_NUMBER>
  • Cockpit tachometers
  • Manual gearboxes and stick shifters (to include those loophole “Tiptronic” and similar semi-manual shift features of automatic transmissions)
  • Bucket seats
  • “Race car style” engine start buttons that let you turn on the vehicle without manually turning a key
  • Road clearance of less than twelve inches
  • Alloy rims mounting tires wider than P185/75R14

Can we all get behind this, folks? After all, the Constitution doesn’t recognize a right to drive, and if it did, it would refer to horse buggies at best, not 200MPH death machines that can catapult the driver from 0 to 60 in four seconds.

34 thoughts on “the right to own and drive cars.

    • Well, that’s just all the more reason to ban them. Gun deaths are 30,000 per year, almost all intended (homicides and suicides.) Car deaths are 40,000 per year, almost all accidental. If they’re not designed to kill, they’re really irresponsibly unsafe.

      • They’re even more lethal per capita, too: there were 254 million registered “passenger vehicles” in the United States in 2009 (US Bureau of Transportation), compared to 310 megafirearms in the United States in 2009 (US DoJ/BATFE).

  1. But, but, you need a license to DRIVE a car! There’s a test and everything. And the government keeps a record of every purchase/sale, even between private subjects. And you have to renew that license every so often too!

    Marko, I agree with the point of your analogy. However, I certainly don’t want someone suggesting that we should be OK w/ government permits to carry a firearm anywhere that isn’t private property. Nor do I want some annual licensing renewal for each gun I own, with extra fees for emissions testing.

    The various state DMV/DOT regulations and laws are a mess themselves. As far as I can tell, they primarily exist to ensure the state receives residuals for every vehicle owned, and to fund the massive apparatus used to extract those residuals.

    • You certainly don’t need that license if you drive the car on private property. And having no license doesn’t prevent anyone from taking a right turn onto the public road at the end of their driveway and driving off with their death machine to endanger the public.

      • I’m aware that you don’t need a license to operate on private property. A majority of the public does not know this. And they somehow think that getting a government-issued ID ensures a base level of safety and competence for motor vehicle operation. And then there are all those other regulations that do little to nothing to keep us safer, and an awful lot to separate us from our hard-earned money.

        The vehicle analogy works well for an initial reframing of the issue. I just feel it opens the door to all kinds of regulation and government intrusion, like that which we all accept as the burden of owning and operating a vehicle.

        Of course licensing isn’t going to stop a lawbreaker from breaking laws. But that’s really our argument anyway. It’s not something that reaches out to the uninformed.

      • This, in spades.

        I have this argument on a fairly regular basis. I point out I can buy a car for cash, no registration or inspection involved so long as I remove it from the dealrship on a trailer.

        By the same token I should be able to buy a gun for cash, put it in my trunk and be done with it. So long as I do not operate it on public land the government is not involved in any way.

        If I want to operate on public land (hunting, ccw) I could submit to registration for those firearms only used on public land as long as my CCW has the same validity across the US as my drivers license.

        That woiuld indeed put firearms and cars on equal footing.

        As you can imagine their little heads explode at this application of logic amid cries of it ain’t so and you have to register a car. Ignorant to the last.

    • One of my older model firearms has horrendous levels of lead emissions; I’m sure that won’t get a sticker.

    • I think JD really captures the essence here. To a lot of the people you really are trying to reach, they wont realize you are being facetious here, They will end up nodding their heads saying “You know what, he has a point” and we’ll all be stuck with smart cars, or some other modernized yugo equivalent. Heck, by your definitions even my “cheapest way to put miles behind me” econ-o-box (Scion XD) qualifies as a “racing-style” car. Darn that 2″ rear hatch spoiler 9″ ground clearance and bucket seats!

      I’d even be willing to give up the dashboard tach and 16″ wheels, but you can have my manual transmission when you pry it from my cold dead hands!

      (no, and we aren’t even getting started on the two seat convertible SCCA Class C Street Prep road assault vehicle in my garage with aftermarket barrel shroud roll bar :-D )

  2. Smart cars are coming (Well, they are here actually, google has some) , and I’m pretty sure once the cost drops to “standard equipment” in 5 – 10 years, you’ll start seeing agitation for making all cars retrofitted or not being able to operate them by human in certain areas/times.

    I’m of two minds with this, I’m not fond of driving per se ( and even _less_ fond of OTHER peoples driving), so getting into an appliance and reading a book while it takes me to where I’m going ( and keeps those other idiots on the road from doing “driving”) appeals to me.

    But the loss of control and such bother’s me a lot.

  3. Heck, I had another commenter, it may have been here, reply to a comment I made 18 months ago about transportation say that freedom of movement is not really a right. According to him, if people want to move and travel, they should be willing to put up with whatever restrictions the government (in that case France) puts on the privilege of locomotion. If you cannot afford the permits and licenses for a car, no train stops in your village, and the Department reduces bus service, well, tough luck. As you say, its a matter of state control.

  4. This would be better satire if I hadn’t heard basically the same thing from the same people who hate guns, only, they actually meant it. :(

    • Watch the reductio creep. In California and other places they are crunching cars for having race upgrades, and the cops can pull you over and force you to get an inspection if your car looks too ricey.

  5. Perfectly logical -if a bit tired (heh)- analogy.

    But what about grabbers makes you think application of logic is logical?

    PB

  6. Damn – my ’97 Nissan pickup, which has around 150,000 miles, and rust holes in the bed and sides through which I can put my hand, is (hypothetically) illegal due to its bucket seats and 5-speed stick. Is there a (hypothetical) exemption for vehicles that take more than a minute to get from zero to sixty? ;)

  7. Mr. Kloos, you being a professional writer might make it interesting to hear you expouned on another scenario, as follows: You know that there is a serial arsonist gang running around town and several folks have been killed, including children. The police have no leads but have confirmed that more than one person is causing these fatal fires. You own a home and have young children the same age as the recently deceased, but you have neither smoke alarms nor a fire extinguisher in your home; fire extinguishers can be heavy, and are indeed dangerous if not used properly. Do you (a) get some training from the local fire department and buy a fire extinguisher and a few battery-operated smoke alarms for your house, talk to the family about what to do in case of fire, look aorund your home for FIREWISE hazards & do something about any you find, and practice some EDITH (exit drills in the home)? Or, do you (b) forget about anything you can do to protect yourself – heck, your town has a pretty good fire department a few miles away and they’ll certainly protect you & your family (it’s their JOB, don’t you know?) – and also actively lobby for some law changes that would not only restrict fire extinguishers to only trained firefighters (remember, they can be heavy and are a danger if used improperly – do you think just ANYONE should be allowed to buy one?), but make it a crime for your neighbors to continue to own a fire extinguisher? Might as well level the playing field; you may have no interest in protecting yourself, and neither should anyone else. Gee whiz, how paranoid does someone have to BE to have an alarm system at home and -get this – a fire extiguisher on EVERY FLOOR?!? What sort of survivalist nut jobs do such things?

    I’d think that you could do a pretty good job with such a litle story.

  8. I have a problem with high powered guitar amplifiers and high capacity speaker cabinets. Why anybody thinks they need more than 40 watts is beyond me. And those 4X12 cabinets stacked on top of each other? Somebody’s obviously compensating for a small penis.

  9. More practically, bitching to one another on blogs ain’t going to cool their jets.

    Bitching directly TO them will, so ladies and gentlemen, commence your letter writing, phone calls and generally bitching to elected officials right away.

    Obama and Co, didn’t win with overwhelming majorities despite AWESOMELY good campaigning, and they know it. They also know an issue like this could bring out EXACTLY the people they don’t want voting in massive droves. Let them know it will.

  10. Sure, more regulation of racing style cars wouldn’t go amiss but how many of these deaths were caused by ‘racing style’ cars?

    Anyway, these arguments are stupid. Everything kills us ultimately but that doesn’t mean that you hand guns out to everyone. Comparing guns with cars or hamburgers or whatever is silly.

    I’d recommend you copy Ireland’s gun control laws. Mandatory minimums for possesion of a hand gun. And hardly any gun violence here (even less when you look past organised crime). Either your guns are the problem or your nation is an asylum. No offense.

    • No offense: You are not allowed to hold me responsible for the deprecating ad hominem attack I just said. Quod vide – No offense, but: You are not allowed to hold me responsible for the deprecating ad hominem attack that follows.

      Exempli gratia – Either alcohol is the problem or you’re a nation of lazy drunks. No offense.

    • Everything kills us ultimately but that doesn’t mean that you hand guns out to everyone.

      Of course not! Those things cost money, dammit. We have enough under-funded handout programs as it is.

    • That’s a specious comparison. For starters, Ireland has less than one sixtieth (1/60) the population of the US. Most major cities in the US have greater populations than the whole of Ireland. Second, the US is vastly more ethnically, religiously, and culturally heterogeneous than Ireland. Third, the US has the right of civilian firearms ownership enshrined in its Constitution. Ireland does not. Comparing the gun laws and rates of gun violence between the two countries tells you nothing, unless you somehow account for the enormous demographic and socio-economic differences between them. This you have failed to do.

      Consider Ireland’s 1.2 murders per 100,000 with Hong Kong’s 0.2 per 100,000. Say what you will about the Hong Kongese, but they are only one sixth as homicidal as you micks. Clearly the laws of Hong Kong are vastly superior to those of Ireland. Plus, the rate of alcoholism in HK is a minor fraction of Ireland’s. And their food tastes better than yours. So there. Nyah nyah nyah.

  11. “Either your guns are the problem or your nation is an asylum. No offense.”

    Respectfully, it’s not an either/ or statement and there’s much else at work.

    For example if your are an American of european extraction and you own a gun, the chances of your committing violence with it against another person of that ethnic group are % wise pretty close to Europeans in Europe doing it. i.e. low

    Also a lot of small European countries can’t even imagine the ethnic diversity in a big American city heck, they in total, are smaller than that some cities here. That diversity leads to what might be called “cultural mis-undersdtanding”, what you see as “clowning around” or “asking for it” , or being on the the wrong turf, is viewed by another group as “dangerous pre-violence” and “harmless flirting”, “lost and scared” – guns may make this worse, but I suspect those misunderstandings might be settled with bats and knives too, to equal effect.

    Since the incidence of guns in the hands of honest people in the US is reverse correlated with gun and OTHER violence, your argument is very weak.

  12. “Either your guns are the problem or your nation is an asylum. No offense.”

    Spot on, we’ve done a magnificent job of turning the country into an asylum, and that’s the issue that no one here wants to talk about.

      • Tam, I’d certainly like to lock them up or escort them to a shallow ditch, but a big part of the problem is that our country is crazy, this is why I agree with the asylum bit. In nature the purpose of life is to perpetuate itself, yet our society is going head-first towards a financial collapse because of all the money we promise to the elderly, why the hell would you sacrifice the next generation to slightly lengthen the lives of the past generation? Why is it that the Vice President can say “we need to keep spending so we dont go broke” and not have a gigantic movement to kick him out of office? I could go on for hours but we’ve become addicted to deluding ourselves to avoid the cold hard reality which is ultimately our only chance at survival.