Since the horrific killing last month of six young people, and the injuring of over a dozen others by an angry, socially-challenged young man, there has been a renewed hue and cry for more gun control, the reasoning being that by restricting access to firearms more lives would be saved.
But the same logic should apply to controlling the availability of cars! Vehicular manslaughter is a very grim daily occurrence. If there were fewer cars being driven, thousands of deaths could be prevented as well as hundreds of thousands of debilitating, life-altering injuries. Yet, despite the carnage, there are no thunderous voices demanding stricter laws governing the right to drive a car.
Make no mistake: in the wrong hands cars are weapons of mass destruction, much like guns, flammable fluids, fertilizer, knives or pressure cookers – even bath-tubs, as evidenced in recent months when there were several incidents of young children being drowned in them.
Go online and type in the name of any North American city combined with the words “local news.” What you will find is at least one report of a crash – often fatal – caused by a person who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, was asleep at the wheel, texting or yakking on a cell phone or distracted in some way.
Recently, a woman was arrested three times in one week for drunk driving. Why was she not in jail after the first offense? Many times the drunk driver responsible for the deaths of innocent pedestrians or car passengers had previously been charged with a DUI.
Even when there are legal checks and balances to ensure the public’s safety against repeat offenders who should be viewed as “terrorists on wheels,” they are not enforced, and many of the offenders get nothing more than the proverbial slap on the wrist before being set free to inflict more harm and grief.
It is not the actual hardware that is dangerous; in responsible hands, cars and firearms and knives etc. are very useful tools, and the majority of the adult population uses them as intended. In Israel, where just about every citizen has access to a firearm, there are no blood-baths by crazed gun-toting madman – except by terrorists – and the fact that ordinary shoppers or commuters had guns and used them to kill the terrorist, saved countless lives.
It’s time to see the trees from the forest. It’s not the gun or the car that is the problem; it is the irresponsible, uncaring, self-absorbed, immature, dysfunctional, callous, indifferent and lacking self-respect individuals controlling it.
But in terms of deadly “weapons,” car control should be the focus of the public’s attention.
I have no doubt that many of you have had your share of “close calls” due to someone’s negligent or careless driving. We are the lucky ones, as tragically we all know people whose lives were prematurely ended by someone else’s blatant mistake.
Often these “mistakes” were avoidable and the result of a callous lack of consideration and indifference to considering crucial factors such as weather conditions, rules of the road, construction, etc.
It’s amazing to me that as cars get “smarter” – equipped with navigation systems, tires that adjust to various weather conditions, seat belts that automatically belt you in when the ignition is turned on, etc. – drivers seems to lose their intelligence.
Your actions as you drive, or lack of them, can have a life-altering effect not just on you, but on others as well. If the Torah exhorts us to be cautious and not put ourselves in jeopardy due to risky behavior, then how much more does that apply to being careful when other people’s lives are at stake!