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benveniste

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[personal profile] benveniste

This is not a post about gun laws.  It's about memes.  If you want to debate gun laws, please do so elsewhere.

The following Meme was shared by some of my Facebook friends, having gotten it from those bastions of integrity, Occupy Democrats and/or Being Liberal:

So, let's take a look at it line by line:

Cars kill as many people as guns?

Nope, cars still kill more, although that may "cross over" in a few years.  So we've started out with a Strawman fallacy.

Licenses that prove competency:

A U.S. driver's license doesn't prove competency.  It proves that you can point a car and stop it for a few minutes without making any major mistakes.  Nor is a driver's license required to purchase a car, nor to operate it on private property.  All U.S. states honor other state's driver's licenses; most also accept many foreign driver's licenses.  This, of course, is something that gun owners would love.

Registration and Insurance:

It bears repeating.  Cars only need to be registered and drivers only need to be insured when operating on public roads.  On private property, it's been you and your property owner.  If you don't believe me, turn on a professional auto race sometime.  It's extremely likely that not a single vehicle on that track is legal to drive on a public road, nor are they required to be registered to any government body.  Despite this, such cars can be openly displayed anywhere a private property owner permits, and they can be transported, openly or concealed, on any public street without doing anything to render them inoperable.

Then there's the tweensy-weensy little problem that a significant number of drivers are unregistered and/or uninsured.  Estimates range from 1 in 10 at the low end to 1 in 7.

Education for misdemeanor offenses:

This one has some truth to it, but very little indeed.  The vast majority of traffic offenses are considered either infractions or civil violations.  While an infraction meets the common law definition of a misdemeanor, they are treated quite different in real life.  If you get charged with an actual misdemeanor, such as reckless driving or leaving the scene of an accident, you ain't getting off with traffic school.

Second, in most states you have to pay some "fees" even if you are lucky enough to get your ticket dismissed for successful completion of traffic school or a driver improvement program, including a fee to the company providing the program.  In Massachusetts, for example, there's a $50 "head injury surcharge" for speeding. Let's remember that many places rely on revenue from traffic and parking violations to fund municipal government.  So don't expect "education" to be automatic or easy to get.

Finally, calling the typical Traffic School or Driver Improvement Program "education" is a bit of a stretch, especially when learning isn't what motivates a student to attend.  If you really want to learn how to drive, you can take a course at a private range or track.

Suspension of license for multiple offenses:

Again, gun rights advocates would love parity with automobiles.  3 petty offenses before suspension?  No automatic loss of rights for convicted felons?  Restricted permits while under suspension?  No loss of privileges due to a domestic restraining order?  Shall I go on?

As with registration and insurance, in real life suspension of driver's licenses has just a few problems.  For example, that ultra-conservative media mouthpiece named NPR reported this year that 75 percent of people receiving suspensions continue to drive, and that the process has a disparate impact on the poor.  So perhaps Occupy Democrats and Being liberal should be campaigning against suspensions instead.

Severe Jail Time for DUI:

I don't care if you call this gross ignorance or simply a lie.  Not even MADD advocates jail time, much less "severe" jail time for first offenders. Even in states with "mandatory jail time" first time offenders typically get put in a "Driver Intervention Program" instead of actually spending time in jail.  Even 2nd or 3rd time offenders often escape jail time.  In Massachusetts, for example, felony charges don't kick in until the 3rd DUI, and a 2nd offense typically results in a 14-day hospital stay to "dry out" instead of jail time.

So either the Meme is expressing wishful thinking or wants different treatment for weapons after all.  I guess some animals are more equal than others.

In summary, not a single assertion of the meme is more than half-true.  No matter where you stand on the issue, posting a meme like this one doesn't persuade anyone and provokes the usual (and equally bogus) knee-jerk reactions.  For anyone who actually pauses to think about the meme, it just comes off as dishonest and silly.

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