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Out of control

Another horrible, avoidable accident, similar to what almost happened to me a few weeks ago:

SAN DIEGO -- A special education teacher who ran a red light on his way to work and caused a crash that killed a 37-year-old motorcyclist was sentenced to two years in state prison.

...At Johnson's arraignment last year, prosecutor William Gentry said the defendant was "running a few minutes late" at about 7:30 a.m. when his Pontiac went into a bicycle lane on northbound Kearny Villa Road.

Johnson approached Miramar Road, noticed the light was turning yellow, then cut across four lanes of traffic to get west on Miramar, the prosecutor said.

Johnson's car crashed into Sanchez on his motorcycle, killing the victim, Gentry said.
This is exactly why gun control is a bad idea.

OK, here's what I'm talking about. People take steps to avoid risks when they cannot afford to bear the consequences of an undesirable outcome. You might buy a lottery ticket for a dollar, because if you lose, hey, it's just a dollar. But if that same ticket cost $1,000, you might not be so eager to play, even if the prize were worth millions. The cost of being wrong rose above your comfort level.

A biker's comfort level for getting into an accident is very, very low. Zero, in fact. As a result, we tend to be very, very careful, especially when riding close to other motorists, who can make sudden, unpredictable moves.

The driver of a car has a much higher comfort level for smash-ups. No one really wants to wreck his car, unless he's entered it in a demolition derby. But in all but the gravest of accidents, today's automotive safety technology assures drivers that they'll be able to walk, or even drive, away from the scene with nothing more than a higher insurance premium.

Because car drivers are insulated from the consequences of their driving behavior, they take more risks. They speed, run stop signs, put on makeup, light cigarettes, eat food, and turn without signalling. Some even install dashboard-mounted DVD players with miniature widescreens, lest they get bored while waiting at one of the red lights they decide to actually stop at.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that as the number of bikes increased on London's M1 motorway, the number of accidents fell. That's because the bikers had a lower tolerance for error, and acted accordingly.

So what does all this have to do with gun control?

Well, criminals evaluate risks just like motorists do. And gun control laws, while presumably well-intentioned, really just make criminals more confident.

That's why in Britain, where not just gun ownership, but even the very right to fight back against an intruder, was severely restricted, crime rates skyrocketed. And in the U.S., especially in areas where gun ownership rates are known to be high, burglary rates are low. Moreover, those burglaries that do occur tend to take place when the house is empty.

The beautiful thing is, not everyone needs to own a gun for this deterrent effect to take hold. As long as a thief isn't reasonably sure that a given household is unarmed, he can't discount the possibility that it is armed. Before pulling a job, he's got to ask himself, as Clint might put it, whether he feels lucky. However, where gun ownership is banned, the thief can be confident that any given household is unarmed. He's like a car driver surrounded by crumple zones, airbags, and a steel safety cage -- even if something does go wrong, the worst-case scenario isn't all that bad.

Bikers are safe motorists, because we fear the consequences of being wrong. That fear belongs in the hearts of criminals, too.


Anonymous said...

As usual, a nice post. I rode motorcycles for about a decade until coming to Japan. My old man's advice about motorcycling is very sound: On a motorcycle, drive as if everyone is trying to kill you. Good transition of content to guns, too. 

Posted by comrade_tovarich

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. 

Posted by a guy in pajamas

Anonymous said...


My old man's advice was, no matter what you're doing
assume everyone is either trying to kill you or rip
you off, even tho hardly anyone is.

An armed society is a polite society.


Posted by jomama

Anonymous said...

Even if handgun ownership didn't reduce crime I would support it on the basic principal that people have a right to defend themselves.

It is a self-reliance thing, yes, our governments should protect us from crime, but when that fails we should have the means to take care of ourselves, not merely be defenseless sheep wishing for our government shepard to fix everything.

The benefit of reduced crime is just a bonus in my opinion. 

Posted by Dave Justus

Anonymous said...

wow, that was a nice post.

though i heard motocycles made you steirle.

I am just kidding. 

Posted by cube

Anonymous said...

The post from the guy in pajamas was actually mine,
minus "comrade".

Don't know who's post that is under my name.

Posted by jomama

Anonymous said...

Your comment appears above your name, not below.

If you leave lots of blank lines at the end of your comment, it ends up separating pretty far from your name and can be confusing. 

Posted by GaijinBiker



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