The gun control debate is back, as unreasonable as ever, and somehow it has snared sports cars into an inane analogy that seeks to push the pro-gun agenda.
Ever since last week's tragedy in Newtown, Conn., I've heard one misinformed moron after another step up to news cameras to declare with certainty, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." Regardless of the fact that no one besides the military and SWAT teams needs assault rifles, their reasoning is that taking away guns won't solve the problem America seems to be having with mass shootings.
Now, some idiot has added to that noise by creating a Facebook page that uses the same logic to call for a ban on Ford Mustangs and other sports cars. Because, you know, sports cars are deadly weapons compared to minivans like assault rifles are dangerous compared to hunting rifles and should be banned. Right.
Today there was a terrible crash involving two pedestrians and a Ford Mustang. The car was driving too fast , swerved and ran straight into two pedestrians kiling them instantly. Where is the outrage for them? They were innocent pedestrians walking down the street when suddenly this fast sports car is out of control and kills them both. How tragic and sad. How many more people will be killed this year by sports cars? Enough is enough already people.
Hilariously, the commentariat has fielded a good number of people who don't make the connection between Ban the Ford Mustang's message and the call to ban assault rifles. Accordingly, there have been many angry comments from loyal Mustang aficionados. One hapless 16-year-old launched into an impassioned plea to the page's administrator to see the error of his ways. He waxed eloquent about his drag slick-equipped '82 Mustang and the beauty of the drag racing hobby and, in that respect, touched our gearhead hearts. But others weren't so friendly in their misguided replies.
Take that you fuckin' pussy!!! Yeah, anyway, that's funny and all, but the fact that anyone would have the gall to compare sports cars to assault rifles gets me a little hot under the collar. Even its very name, assault rifle, implies that it's designed for extreme violence. Clearly, such is not the case with sports cars, so the analogy doesn't work at all.
Back to the gearhead 16-year-old, we feel your pain, kid, but you're missing the point. This isn't about your beloved Mustang, it's about douchebags who want dumb things down by saying that you building a drag car and racing it on the weekends is somehow akin to someone owning a safe full of AR-15s that could, in the wrong hands, become the untimely end of a lot of people.
Then there's the issue of statistics. Mr. Ban the Ford Mustang Facebook page uses a series of presumably Googled newspaper articles about Ford Mustangs involved in deadly crashes to imply that the cars are deadly. But nowhere does this misleadingly sensational troll bother to share with us how many of these deadly pony cars are rampaging public roads. So I've done the work for him.
In 2011, Americans bought 13.1 million cars. Of those, 70,348, or about half a percent, were Ford Mustangs. Now let's compare firearms sales numbers and see who comes out on top. The good ol' U.S. of A. purchased 10.8 million firearms last year. More than 2 million of those were rifles, and because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives doesn't break down the data further than that, we have to go by an old article using 2009 National Rifle Association numbers to determine that about 400,000 of those — 3.7 percent of all firearms — were AR-15s.
But while Mustang sales have come down since 2005, AR-15s have been selling like hotcakes. Why? First and foremost because guns are big business. But also because some people are afraid they won't be able to buy the fun boom toys if the big, bad federal government reinstitutes the Clinton-era assault weapons ban the Bush administration allowed to expire in 2004. Others have been convinced by gun rights advocacy groups that they need assault rifles to handle everything from home invaders to socialist government plots. (There are a number of these organizations — such as the rabidly pro-2nd Amendment Gun Owners of America — around, but since they're politically oriented organizations, it's difficult to find out where their money comes from. I have a few guesses).
Let's look at a few more statistics to further debunk Ban the Ford Mustang's sports car-assault weapons comparison. While car-related deaths have plummeted from more than 50,000 in 1979 to 32,367 in 2011 (keep in mind that there are a lot more people and cars now than there were then), deaths caused by firearms in 2010 were at 31,347. That's down from the gangsta rap days of 1993, but according to Center for Disease Control stats, that number has been creeping back up since 2000.
Just this year, mass shootings in America claimed 12 in Aurora, Colo., six in Oak Creek, Wis., six in Minneapolis, Minn., three in Brookfield, Wis., and 27 last week in Newtown. That's 54 mass shooting fatalities, which doesn't include the scores of people who were injured and/or emotionally scarred by those horrific events.
Considering that highway fatalities are on the wane and gun ownership on the rise, that should tell us something. That something is that cars and guns have absolutely nothing in common. Cars are for transportation and, sometimes, sport, but their main role is as a conveyance. Firearms — even assault rifles — can be used for sport, too, but at a time when there are more people in the United States than ever before in history, we live too close together for anyone to need assault rifles with 30-round magazines. You want to hunt? A bolt action rifle with a five-round magazine works great.
As far as my long-winded denunciation of Ban the Ford Mustang guy's puerile attempt at satire goes, the bottom line is this: Assault rifles are not sporty. Sure they can be fun as hell to shoot, but if you want to play with big guns, join the army.
Photo credit: Facebook; Associated Press