Letter to the Editor: Operator Error

Drive your car too fast for conditions – fatal accident – operator error. Tire blowout due to low air pressure – fatal accident – operator error. Any of us can make a list of 20 forms of auto accidents that can be blamed on operator error.

The auto industry fought safety improvements for decades, things like seat belts, they shifted the blame to operator error.

Your automobile now has safety glass in its windows, anti-lock brakes, traction control, air bags, seat belts, child-proof door locks, stability control, shock absorbing bumpers, structural crash protection, roll over crash protection, collapsing steering column, a leak proof gas tank, air pressure monitoring to prevent low tire air pressure, and on and on. A car built 60 years ago may have had none of these safety features.

The automobile industry woke up. Operator error is the cause in almost every fatal car accident, probably. But it was the car that killed people. The auto industry fixed the car, not the operator. We are no better, no safer drivers than our grandparents were, it is our cars that are safer, not us.

Sloppy paperwork permits the purchase of guns by those who should not buy them. FBI may process background checks too slowly. Clerical errors, human errors everywhere, of course. The NRA has an infinite list of their forms of operator errors that are always at fault.

But we are human and human errors are always going to be there.  People are people, errors are human. The excuses that the NRA points to will always be there, nothing is going to stop operator error, nothing, no laws, no greater staffing of the FBI.

The auto industry has made great errors in saving lives with safer cars. It is the time for the same with guns. Either eliminate them or make them safer and/or less dangerous. Address the guns just as the auto industry addressed the cars.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Cars don’t kill people, drivers kill people. Why is one of these sayings recognized as fact and rational, and the other as irrational? Why is the logic in example A different than the logic in example B? I will tell you, it is because the auto industry proved to be responsible citizens and the gun industry revels in profiting in blood.


Jim Riead

Egg Harbor, Wis.

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