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Don't teach children to look both ways before crossing the street or that they need to be extremely cautious around vehicular traffic because of distracted drivers, drunk drivers, sleepy drivers and just plain bad drivers.

--Instead--

Keep emphasizing the fact that they always have the right-of-way in a crosswalk [which they'll translate to mean any intersection, marked or unmarked, between them and their destination] so when they become older they'll know it's okay to just step out--without a single look in either direction--into a busy intersection while horsing around with their friends. . .talking on their cellphones. . .stuffing their faces with snacks, and all the while resting assured that traffic will be forced to stop(1). They figure that if they pretend not to see you, it'll be doubly your fault if they get killed. This is exactly how we've created millions of our latter-day pedestrians, too many of whom we can now call the "restingly assured."

Don't let some stranger talk your kid out of the idea that the white line painted at the very edge of a narrow two-lane road is a bicycle lane marker, not a shoulder marker, notwithstanding the fact that the "lane" thus created is only about as wide as a bicycle tire to begin with.

--Instead--

Tell him that worrying about a bicycle, a semi truck and a bus meeting on a busy two-lane highway, while also crossing a narrow wooden bridge(2) is for wusses and that they needn't give it a second thought.

Don't be surprised when your city councilman/woman is unaware of statistics which show that the moment of greatest danger for the driver of a vehicle traveling at 65 mph is when he/she enters an area of mixed traffic, both as to size and speed.

--Instead--

Tell them you think it's a great idea to simply post bright yellow "Share The Road" signs with a bike icon at the top whenever the bicycle lane runs out of real estate(3). They'll love your idea because of course it'll save the city the expense of widening the roadway in order to accommodate this kind of traffic mix wherein--suddenly--there's a cyclist in front of you, or, as a reasonable alternative, figuring out a way to re-route the bicycle lane.

Don't tell your wild and crazy boyfriend that while excessive speed is the number one killer on the highways, improper lane usage follows close behind, (pun intended) and it might not be such a good idea for him to run up the middle between lanes while passing vehicles on both sides at 85 or 90 mph. For one thing, it scares the hell out of the drivers, which of course he knows, but figures he's protected by the sign on his fender that says, "Kill a biker--go to jail."

--Instead--

Tell him that since it's not against the law(4), he's doing the right thing by protecting his manhood and showing the rest of the world what he's really made of. . .something he'll have ample opportunity to do come the day he mixes it up with a couple of sleepy big rig operators.

Don't worry your pretty little head over the fact that the U.S. has the highest violent crime rate of any industrialized nation in the world.

--Instead--

Keep convincing yourself that crimes involving one of the 70 million(5) small, concealable handguns in this country will never get around to involving you. Like, the way they never got around to involving the families of the school shooting at Moses Lake, WA (1996) or at Bethel, AK (1997) or at Pearl, MS (1997) or at West Paducah, KY (1997) or at Stamps, AK (1997) or at Jonesboro, AK (1998) or at Edinboro, PA (1998) or at Fayetteville, TN (1998) or at Springfield, OR (1998) or at Richmond, VA (1998) or at Littleton, CO (1999) or at Conyers, GA (1999) or at Deming, NM (1999) or at Fort Gibson, OK (1999) or at Mount Morris Township, MI (2000) or at Savannah, GA (2000) or at Lake Worth, FL (2000) or at New Orleans, LA (2000) or at Baltimore, MD (2001) or at Santee, CA (2001) or at Williamsport, PA (2001) or at Granite Hills, CA (2001) or at Gary IN (2001) or at Caro MI (2001) or at New York, NY (2002) or at Tucson AZ (2002) or at New Orleans, LA (2003) or at Red Lion, PA (2003) or at Cold Spring, MN (2003) or at Red Lake, MN (2005) or at Jacksboro TN (2005) or at Essex. VT (2006) or at Bailey, CO (2006) or at Cazenovia, WI (2006) or at Nickel Mines, PA (2006) or at Tacoma WA (2007) or at Blacksburg VA (2007) or at Dover DE (2007) or at Cleveland, OH (2007) or at Baton Rouge, LA (2008) or at Memphis, TN (2008) or at Oxnard, CA (2008) or at De Kalb, IL (2008) (6).

--Also--

Make sure everyone understands that once they begin tampering with the Second Amendment to the Constitution, they'll have to pry the gun from your "cold, dead hand"(7). You might also want to subscribe to another oft-repeated phrase coming from the same general quarters as the preceding quote, which says [para], "If you take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, only the criminals will have guns"(8).

--Editorial--

America runs on public safety issues, in all the ways that that implies. Politicians campaign for it; auto makers are forced to meet mandates over it; while public health issues at all levels--local, state and national--abound because of it. . .which means, in effect, that public health in this country is treated just like any other commodity. People are all for public safety, but only as long as it doesn't put the squeeze on profits--or "reserves," or "budgets," or "shareholder interests." And yet each year thousands--maybe even tens of thousands--are stricken with complications--including death--by using federally approved products exactly as intended, which would of course include prescription drugs and OTC medications. And yet, giving credit where credit is due [wink, wink,] handguns do the job they were designed to do--kill people--with close to 100% efficiency and with almost 0% error. A failure in the use of a handgun usually means that someone lives instead of dying. How's that for an unexpected curve ball coming straight out of corporate America?

Congratulations, boys. Every ex-patriot American manufacturer of lead-filled toys and otherwise defective 3rd-world products being foisted upon us back here at home and elsewhere around the world should hope do even a fraction as well.

------

(1) Based on "realities on the ground," as the now-famous saying goes. So while we're at it, let's go ahead and pass ordinances that give pedestrians the right-of-way at any and all surface street intersections since that's a priori in the minds of most pedestrians anyway. Some may feel that this is the prudent thing to do because of the extremely heavy flow of traffic that has developed over the last couple of decades. It's also the deadliest thing we could do for the exact same reason.

(2) A classic example happens to be situated on a sharp bend on the road only a few miles from my house. Bike clubs hold regattas on this road, which leads me to believe that the organizers of these affairs need to become acquainted with a type of therapy known as a "5250"--the sooner the better.

(3) It would seem that this has become a favorite trick of county supervisors in the County of Ventura, California. It would also be a good bet that this frees up millions of additional dollars for this county's highly prized wasteful spending practices. And then, just when I thought I was finished writing this article, the City of Ventura, where I live, has taken to "augmenting" the practice by painting a bicycle symbol in the center of the curb lane, which, I would guess, is to warn the driver that he is "sharing" a bike lane. Wouldn't it make more sense to lay down a "car" symbol and warn the cyclist that he's sharing an automobile traffic lane? The fact that drivers find themselves on a roadway one second, and in a bike lane the next seems to pose no contradiction and no apparent public hazard in the minds of those who would even propose such an idea. If you drove a dually (84" wide) vehicle as I do, you would have an even better idea of what I'm talking about.

(4) It might be against the law in some states, but in California it's perfectly legal.

(5) Re: "Guns and Crime," from Cliffs Notes

(6) The totals are these: 44 separate school shooting incidents; 120 children and adults dead, 155 wounded, 14 critically and one brain dead in the years between 1996 and 2008 (Source: Infoplease). And these are just the school shootings. In all other shootings involving children, often victims of gang violence, drive-by shootings, domestic violence and accidental discharge of firearms, the statistics are far more grim. It's estimated that in the U. S. alone, a child 19 years and younger dies of wounds inflicted by firearms every two hours(9), and by another calculation, every 2.5 hours(10). Once again, these are only the children, which reels the mind to think of combining these figures with all other forms of childhood trauma deaths, including the carnage that takes place on our nation's highways.

(7) Re: Charlton Heston, National Rifle Association celebrity spokesperson. Which carries with it an element of truth, because you can't take it with you, now can you? How likely is it that where you're going there will even be a Constitution, let alone a Bill of Rights? So what do you care? Preserving tradition, perhaps? Fair enough. But the tradition you're preserving is more horrifying than war if you don't mind dropping the narrative for a moment and start speaking of facts. It's the tradition in America where someone dies of a bullet wound every seventy-five minutes (derived), out of every 24-hour period, season after season, year in and year out. [Basis: 12,000 handgun deaths per year (typ) in the population at large.) That's the reality, tradition be damned.

(8) Re: National Rifle Association, in what amounts to a political sound bite and a prime example of what happens when, again, gullible people start listening to the narrative while choosing to ignore the facts. The antidote for this kind of thinking is some simple reasoning, which--for those who are taking notes--is as follows: "Everyone is a law-abiding citizen--that is, until the first time. . .the first time they use a handgun to go out and kill someone."

(9) Re: "Gangs & Gun Violence Statistics," authored by the Violence Prevention Institute, Inc., 2008. The Institute also reports in the same article that almost 25,000 juveniles aged 12 to 17 were murdered in the 20 year period between 1980 and 2000.with the additional reminder that these statistics apply only to a narrow (junior/senior high school aged) segment of America's juvenile population. So tell me again, Mr. & Mrs. pro-life advocate. Tell me again about your sanctity-of-life position when it come to abortion, and then try to help me understand your sudden blindness when it comes to a proposed repeal of the Second Amendment.

(10) In 1999, there were 3,385 firearms-related deaths for children ages 0-19 years. They break down as follows: 214 unintentional, 1,078 suicides, 1,990 homicides, 83 for which the intent could not be determined, and 20 due to legal intervention (Source: 2002 edition of Injury Facts). If this rate, based on a recent yearly high (1999) were to be expanded over a 20-year time frame, the figure would surpass that for all American military losses going back to, and including, the Vietnam conflict [58,209 Vietnam KIA, all branches of service (Source: U.S. National Archives & Wikipedia) vs 65,000 children (derived)]


------
Fritzwilliam


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Comments

The following comments are for "Public Safety a Joke"
by fritzwilliam

Bicycles and bullets.
I say arm the bicyclists with hand guns to ward off angry, distracted, tired, bored drivers and maybe pick off a few of the selfish youngsters who feel untouchable.

Really, I agree with your general theme that we have gotten lazy about teaching our society, then refreshing that knowledge often, about safety in all areas of public interaction.

For example, in Arizona a drive MUST give any bicyclist 4 feet of space when passing. However, a cyclist can ride on the road, sidewalk, through outside markets congested with pedestrians (mothers with toddlers in strollers) and not have to give an inch. If a car driver hits ANY cyclist, regardless of where that cyclist was riding, the car driver is in court with heavy fines if cyclist lives, goes to jail if cyclist dies.

I have had many a "heated" discussion with avid cyclists I work with, all of them saying "bicycles have equal right to the road". I say not so; I pay hundreds of dollars a year in vehicle taxes and registration fees to drive my vehicle on roads that were built for those vehicles. If our politicians pass a law that requires bicyclists to pay equal tax and registration then I will agree they have equal right to my road.

In Tucson we have an annual "Tour De Tucson" fashioned after the Tour De France race. This brings hoards of cyclists, local and from far away, to ride along our two lane highways in preparation for the race. On race day our law enforcement closes intersections and busy thoroughfares during the race. However, in the weeks leading up to the race there is no law enforcement assistance to ensure safety, but there are still hundreds of cyclists in large groups peddling into vehicle lanes, three and four abreast, they don't consider safety one bit -- they know if car driver hits them they will be able to sue big time.

Yes, we have become a society of entitlements -- everybody has a right to anything they wish. By the way, I do ride a bicycle myself.

As for your points on gun control, I respectfully disagree with your opinion (what I think it is anyway) that stricter gun control will prevent senseless shootings/deaths.

From 1994 to 1999 (most recent study I could find) a total of 253 violent deaths occurred and schools (elementary through college). Comparatively, shooting deaths that you highlighted are far less in quantity than other preventable deaths. Just that they happen in schools and mostly to children and adults who supervise them, the news is so much more shocking to us. According the Center for Disease Control, accidental child deaths are caused by: car accidents - 56%, drowning - 22%, pedestrian accidents - 15%, firearms - 3%. In 2000 86 children died by accidental firearm discharge, while 40 children drowned in mob buckets and 80 drowned in tubs. In all cases I would believe that parent neglect was the root cause.

By the way, hundreds of thousands more people die each year in this country of obesity related illness (400,000 in 2000), tobacco use (435,000), and automobiles (43,443 in 2005). In 1995, Colorado had 1,131 people die or be hospitalized due to bicycle accidents, most due to head injuries. So, if people dying senselessly are the motivating factor then we have more serious things to consider than gun control.
Just like other safety issues, we have neglected to teach about gun safety, and do not reinforce that knowledge at all. I have owned weapons all my life, as has my father, mother, brothers and sister. We all were members of a shooting club as youngsters. Once a week we attended meetings that included target shooting, ballistics facts, and weapon usage. It always began with a safety first message. This was not an NRA sanctioned program -- no affiliation at all. As result, I own weapons that are stored in a locked gun safe, ammo is kept separate, locked.

With regard to your list of USA shootings that involved hand guns, I know that the Columbine Colorado (Littleton) shootings included a large arsenal of rifles, pistols, home made explosives. The two monsters that were responsible concocted their scheme in there homes under the neglectful eyes of their parents. Anytime teens lock themselves into basements and bedrooms for hours at a time, for weeks at a time that is a HUGE signal that something is cooking. Those parents should have picked up on the signals.

As for many other shootings you listed (don't know numbers at this point) I think it is important to also point out that most, if not all, of them were planned and often predicated with strange behavior that adults failed to recognize and act on. In a recent school lock down here, a student told a teacher that another student was talking about "blowing people away". Teacher asked student if she saw a weapon, or if the other kid said anything about a weapon. The girl said "yes, he says he can get a gun really easy from his brother". Teacher did the right thing; administration did the right thing, locked school down, called cops and pulled the boy from his classroom to isolate him. Two years ago the same situation in another school occurred, teacher ignored it as just kids talking, one kid was shot and killed after school that day.

I am a firm believer, in theory, that people kill people -- and blaming it all on the availability of guns is just as irresponsible as ignoring the warning signs of something that could be brewing. When I lived in England the BBC and other news orgs were quick to point out stories of shootings in America, always with a slant that Americans are a bunch of pistol toting gangsters. In the same news casts they would blow right by a story of a bunch of thugs in some English town building bombs and blowing discos up, killing dozens of innocent party goers at a time. And there were also many gang-like beatings that ended in deaths.

The slogans you wrote are a bit cliché in sound, but they are also very accurate. If the second amendment is revoked then only those who are outside the law will have weapons. What that means is that law abiding citizens with registered and legal weapons will be forced to turn them over. We must always remember that our right to bear arms is not so we can shoot each other, but so that our government will never be able to accomplish absolute control or "ownership" of the citizens.

Good words and thoughts. Like I said, I agree with your general assessment that we, as a society, have fallen into a state of denial that we need not teach and preach safety in ALL aspects of our lives. For some reason the average person believes if they are injured it is someone else’s fault, and probably that they can sue for big bucks (I blame lazy litigation reform on that). All accidents can be boiled down to the occurrence of unsafe acts and/or conditions. Parents who leave weapons out in the open so children or thieves can get to them are creating an unsafe condition. Parents who do not teach their children proper pedestrian and bicycle safety are creating an unsafe condition that leads to unsafe acts. Bicyclists, who ignore basic traffic laws, feeling they are immune by some invisible force, are creating an unsafe condition and acting in unsafe ways.

Sorry for the rant, I do appreciate the effort you put into this posting. I normally do not jump into one’s blog like this. I do consider myself a responsible and educated person who is accountable for my actions, and my children’s’ actions. More importantly, I firmly believe that we must fight to protect all of our constitutional rights; there are a lot of times I personally believe that the press is culpable – but as the old cliché goes, I will fight to the death their right to print some of the garbage they get away with.

Cheers

Brian

( Posted by: bwoz [Member] On: April 11, 2008 )

I'm so glad. . .
For the thoughtful response. My aim was to remain "reasonably" non-judgmental as to whether gun control; the 2nd Amendment; NRA hype, etc., etc. is a good thing or a bad thing. I'd hoped to present a few facts on issues of safety in America and let the reader decide for himself or herself as to whether "public safety," (the prime directive of government) is a major success or a major failing in this country today. Polls typically ask the question, "Do you feel safer today than you did just after 9-1-1?" My question is, "Safer from what?"

( Posted by: fritzwilliam [Member] On: April 11, 2008 )

Yes, thought provoking
I think you hit on the key element Fitz -- it is responsiblity, and accountability that are lacking in our society these days. As for "do I feel safer" I would agree with your follow up -- safer from what?

I just don't understand how we as a society have become so lame about accountability and responsibility -- and worst part is how can we ever get back to those ideals?

Thanks, I like being involved with such a piece -- as you can tell it got my energy up pretty good and thats always a good thing. Hope others will join in on this.

BW

( Posted by: bwoz [Member] On: April 12, 2008 )

As is my wont. . .
I'm preparing "Public Safety II," and should have it ready soon. Hope you're interested and I too hope we can keep the dialog going. Thanks. I'll return the favor by keeping up with your posts as well.

( Posted by: fritzwilliam [Member] On: April 12, 2008 )





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