Guns vs. Cars

Miguel over at GFZ posted an image from the?CSGV in which they claim that “strictly regulating cars, drivers, and roads” has resulted in a 90% drop in automotive-related fatality rates in the last century or so.
Leaving aside the fundamental difference that the majority of automotive-related fatalities are due to accidents while the majority of gun-related fatalities are due to intentional acts (either suicide or homicide), I thought it would be interesting to do a quick apples-to-apples comparison between guns and cars:

Regulations on Cars/Guns

The “strict regulations” on cars were almost exclusively related to actual safety concerns of passengers in cars: seat belts, laminated windshields, safety glass, air bags, having electric lights instead of kerosene lamps, not exploding when rear-ended, generally not being made of flimsy materials like wood, etc. Compare, say, a Model T to a modern vehicle and the differences in regards to the safety of the occupants are obvious.
There’s also the matter of the environment in which cars are operated: in the early 1900s, cars were operated alongside pedestrians, horse-drawn carriages, etc. where collisions were much more likely. Modern cars are operated on dedicated roads and highways that are more isolated from pedestrians and slower-moving vehicles.
Guns are similar: guns that fire without the shooter desiring it (e.g. when dropped) are broken, as are guns that explode in normal operating conditions. Such guns are defective and are recalled or replaced. Guns have had many safety mechanisms for a long, long time: the 1911 has both a grip safety and a manual safety. The only major improvement I can think of that modern pistols have made in that regard is the addition of drop safeties.
Modern holsters are extremely safe (more so than just dropping a gun loose into a pocket) and retention holsters are available for modest cost to those who wish to buy them.
If anything, guns are far ahead of cars in regards to the safety of the operator.

Regulations on Drivers/Gun Owners

The “strict regulations” on those wishing to drive on public roads are basic vision tests that my grandparents had no trouble passing, a few hours of lessons in high school followed by a short written and behind-the-wheel exam by the DMV and you’re good to go for life.
Similar standards exist for those wishing to carry firearms in public: a few hours learning the basics of the legal issues regarding self-defense (e.g. when the use of force is appropriate), basic instruction on safe gun-handling, and a little time at the range. Typically such licenses must be renewed every few years.
No license or training is necessary for someone to operate a vehicle on private property. In most states guns that are used only at home or the range, but not carried in public, don’t require any license or permit,

Regulation of Roads/Ranges

In regards to roads, older roads are little more than paved country paths. Modern roads are well-engineered and safe.
The only things that’s really comparable for guns are?organized ranges, which are typically well-managed and extremely safe.
All the ranges I know are extremely attentive about keeping the property well-maintained, in good repair, clean, etc. They all have regular clean-ups of the range as well as extraction/recycling of bullets from berms/backstops.

Discussion

Nearly all of the changes to laws regulating cars and drivers over the last century or so have related to genuine safety concerns and there is clear evidence for the effectiveness of seat belts, air bags, non-exploding cars, well-maintained electric lights, etc. in regards to improving safety.
Other important regulations have been in regards to improving fuel efficiency and reducing pollution, and while many people?have been encouraging mass transit and improving street/city design to minimize the necessity for cars,?there has been no non-lunatic-fringe efforts to dramatically reduce or eliminate the number of cars.
The same cannot be said for firearms: the majority of laws enacted regarding firearms have nothing to do about the safety of the operator of a firearm. A few, such as those requiring safe storage of firearms and mandating that gun locks are sold with each new gun, are nominally about safety but there’s no evidence that they’ve actually done anything positive for safety.
Also, essentially all of the so-called “gun safety” are, in fact, “gun control” groups that seek to significantly reduce the number of privately-owned firearms. Some groups and their members are willing to let hunters and sportsmen maintain guns suitable for those activities while eliminating?”undesirable” guns like handguns, modern rifles, and so on, while others aren’t even willing to allow that and seek total civilian disarmament.
None of those groups promote things that would actually improve safety, like age-appropriate educational safety classes for children and adults.

?In Short

With very few exceptions, cars and guns are safe to use. Saying that more legislation is needed so guns can be “safer” is disingenuous, especially when there’s not really any pressing need (that is, guns exploding or otherwise accidentally injuring their users is very rare, and not typically the fault of the gun).

Weerd on “Ask and Tell”

Weerd has some good advice for?responding to “Are there guns in the house?” questions that the antis are pushing as a “safety” measure.
While there?is a certain aspect of safety involved in such questions, in that having unsecured, loaded firearms around young children is asking for trouble, it’s not unreasonable to suspect that the antis have some sort of ulterior motive like shaming legitimate gun owners. This?is the Brady Campaign, after all.
Weerd’s advice is good, and I’ll summarize it here:

  1. Shame. Bluntly asking people about personal, private things like gun ownership, particularly if you’ve just met, is rather forward and a little bit rude.?Being affronted by their questions is reasonable.
  2. Honesty.?Although you’re affronted, don’t lie. Don’t show them your guns or security, but don’t lie.
  3. Quid Pro Quo. If they’re bold enough to ask you private questions, turn the table: do they own guns? Do they know how to store?or handle them safely?
  4. Into The Fold! This is a good learning?opportunity: see if they’re interested in learning more about guns and gun safety.
  5. Social Stigma. If the other person responds irrationally in regards to your safe and lawful firearm ownership and denies their child a friend (in the form of your child), mention that to your friends. If they react this way about safely and lawfully owned firearms, how would they react to other situations?
  6. Remember the Children. Keep in mind that the kids are innocent bystanders here and are just interested in being friends with others.?Assuming that the other parent’s home is reasonably safe?(i.e., the pool is fenced, household chemicals and knives are secured and out of reach, etc.), there’s no reason to prevent your child from playing over there, having a good time, and socializing.

Read the whole thing.
I’m a big fan of #3 — take advantage of a situation and turn it into a learning opportunity. When I was working on my bachelors degree I’d do this frequently with other students, particularly those who had no experience with firearms. It worked out really well, and everyone had a fun time (particularly at the range).