“Over fifty years, we reduced per-mile driving deaths by almost 80% and prevented 3.5 million automobile deaths. And we’re still at it. . . . My goal as President, and our goal as a society, will be to reduce that number by 80%.” — Senator Elizabeth Warren, August 10, 2019
It is pretty deceptive to claim that government regulations reduced motor vehicle deaths by 80%. Those deaths were falling much faster before the federal started regulating auto safety. As indicated by the figures from Dr. John Lott’s previous book, The War on Guns: 1) it is easy to see that cars were getting safer from the time the very first data was released in 1921, long before there was an mandated federal safety regulations, and 2) when you look over the entire period, the rate at which car safety improved actually slowed down after the federal government started regulating car safety. The first seatbelts were introduced in 1950 by car companies that were figuring out on their own how to make cars safer. But the New York Times’ graph doesn’t show the even faster drop in vehicle deaths per-mile-traveled that occurred before 1946.
It is important to note that accidental deaths from all sources are falling over time. Companies are competing against each other to provide customers with safer products, and items such as seat belts, shatter proof glass, padded dashboard, and safety cages were just some of the many safety features adopted by car makers long before the federal government got involved in regulating auto safety.
Government regulations slowed down safety regulations for a simple reason: government micromanaged how companies would meet those safety improvements. It isn’t just that the government mandated that car companies had to use airbags in their cars, it is that the government would tell the companies exactly how to make those bags and how to install them. That forced car companies to wait on installing these safety features until the federal government told the companies exactly how they wanted the product made and installed. If the companies didn’t wait, they may find themselves spending hundreds of millions of dollars or even billions of dollars only to find that they had to redesign everything and start all over.
Let’s go through some of the individual claims made by Warren. Was is particularly lacking in talking about policing to reduce crime rates. The emphasis is only on how gun control will help police do their jobs.
Repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. It might be hard to remember, but prior to the 2005 laws gun makers were being sued because they “specifically geared” their weapons to make them attractive to gang members. Among the offending characteristics listed are low price, easy concealability, corrosion resistance and high firepower, but these are all characteristics that make guns attractive to law-abiding citizens. Suing an industry for making affordable products shows how far the liability-litigation madness has gone.
The lawsuits were simply an attempt to raise the costs of doing business by simultaneously bringing lots of lawsuits and bankrupt the companies. Warren may claim she cares about the poor, but poor people in the highest-crime areas benefit the most from gun ownership, and they are the people who would be priced out of owning guns for protection.