June 21, 2016 Community news from the prairie to the lakes  
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  Sensible gun control, like sensible car safety, could and would save lives
  by C. A. RAY, Editor

When I was a teenager, during the late 1960s, I kept track of the death toll from vehicle accidents on Minnesota roads. I suppose it was because I was a teenager, and had lost friends in accidents, but every year, that number crept towards 1,000, until it finally reached 1,060 in 1968.

It’s hard to imagine 1,000 people killed on Minnesota roads, because that number has been slashed since the ‘60s. Last year around 400 people were killed on Minnesota roads, which was a jump from the 361 killed in 2014.

The reasons less people are dying on Minnesota roads, and on roads throughout the U.S. include: decreased speed limits (until recently anyway); safer roads; and, safer cars.

All of these factors were brought about because of government action. Our government, wisely, decided traffic safety is a public safety issue and made car manufacturers install seat belts and enacted laws, in 34 states anyway, that required all front seat occupants, to wear them. Cars are designed to withstand crashes with the passenger compartment somewhat protected. Many cars have automatic door locks and other safety features to protect children. Children, in fact, have to sit in approved safe seating, etc. Glass shatters on impact without sharp edges, and the list goes on and on and has to include the increase in awareness and enforcement of DUI laws.

Roads also have built in safety features including wider shoulders and safer ditches with gentler banks and fewer obstacles for cars that go in the ditch.

Safety experts agree that these laws, and others, are primarily responsible for the drastic decline in vehicle fatalities.

But what would have happened if an organization, let’s call it the National Car Owners’ Association (NCOA) bribed lawmakers to ignore public safety and not pass these laws requiring safer cars and roads? What if the NCOA handed out cash to our senators and congresspeople to “protect” the rights of responsible car owners to drive unencumbered of seat belts, door locks, child seats, speed limits, or sobriety?

Let’s say the NCOA finds justification for these “rights” in the United States Declaration of Independence which guarantees the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” in the 9th Ammendent to the Constitution as well as the 14th Amendment.

The 9th Amendment protects individuals from “Federal infringement of unenumerated rights,” and the 14th Ammendement protects individuals from the States doing the same.

Unenumerated rights are legal rights inferred from other legal rights that are officiated in a retrievable form codified by law institutions, such as in written constitutions, but are not themselves expressly coded or “enumerated” among the explicit writ of the law.

What does that mean? Who knows, it was written a long time ago when people had the time to read and figure it all out, but we sure as hell better not risk violating it!

And what if the NCOA punished lawmakers who dared consider laws violating these “rights.” They punished them the only way they legally could by pouring money and support into opposition candidates.

Could you imagine the carnage if there were none of these common sense safety features and at the same time, cars got bigger, faster, and more numerous?

Of course, by now you know what I am getting at. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has been holding public safety hostage in the interests of political power and their gun manufacturing backers since their rise to power on May 22, 1077 when a group of gun radicals took over the annual meeting of the NRA in Cincinnati and changed it from a sportsmen organization into a political powerhouse. They considered the old NRA too interested in hunting, and target shooting.

Sort of like if the NCOA took over the National Hot Rod Association because they were too concerned about car shows and driver’s education.

It’s far, far, beyond the time we stop this nonsense! Perhaps a few more slaughters like Orlando will finally tip the balance. The NRA and their supporters had better get onboard with sensible gun control measures or the public will someday demand less sensible ones.

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