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Why not require thumbprints to purchase gas?
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What kills more people in the United States: Guns or cars?

The answer might surprise you.

In 2009 there were 33,808 traffic deaths while there were 30,364 gun deaths. But once you subtract suicides by gun - which runs typically 16,000-plus a year - there were 14,364 homicides and accidental deaths by gun.

There were an estimated 280 million firearms in the United States in 2009 compared to 246 million vehicles.

It is clear the most likely way for one to die either at the hands of a stranger or by lapse in judgment is by car and not by gun despite the fact there are more guns out there than vehicles.

Any wrongful death inflicted by another should not be tolerated. Yet we spend considerable time in an uproar over guns and how to regulate them and the people who own them and hardly a whimper about the more deadly weapons on four wheels.

One example is the California law restricting handgun ammunition sales by requiring registering bullet buyers’ thumbprints. A  Fresno County Superior Court judge Wednesday threw out many sections of the law on the grounds such a requirement is unconstitutional. The law authored by State Senator Kevin De Leon was designed as an attempt to keep ammo out of the hands of drug abusers, criminals, and the mentally ill.

The rationale, of course, is that the way to reduce the murder rate when government efforts to ban private possession of most guns have run up against the Second Amendment was to target the bullets and not the gun.

It’s a good strategy that should be applied to gasoline sales.

There is an inordinate amount of people driving around unlicensed, or with revoked licenses, and perhaps even mentally ill. A vehicle also fits into the business plan of most criminals who use them for everything from fleeing from the scene of robberies and murders to transporting stolen goods.

So why not require the thumb print of every person buying gas be taken prior to any gas station being authorized to sell them fuel?

Without gasoline, law breakers would not be able to terrorize others simply by driving around.

Taking away the wheels of many criminals has an effective way of reducing crime and murder although there might be an upsurge in drive-by shootings using bicycles.

A little over 10 years ago, when the Manteca Police Department made a conscious decision to use a state law that gave them the authority to impound the vehicle of those caught driving without a license, the value of burglary property losses started to dive.

The reason was because of what some at the time called the SOB factor - scum on bicycles.

Police and residents started noticing an uptick in the number of bicyclists out in the wee hours of the morning in Manteca often carrying items such as weed trimmers.

Many items are pilfered from yards, porches, garages, and such while residents slept. But with no car parked nearby to take the spoils of their looting away, they instead had to flee on a bicycle and only steal what they could carry.

How much would the crime rate - and death rate - go down if the same logic the state applied to bullets and guns were also applied to gasoline and cars?

Argue that and some in the “gut-the-Second Amendment-at-any-cost” club will say that death by gun is much more random and violent. Car crashes are a pretty violent way to die. As for random, study after study show most victims of gun fire knew their assailant. That simply isn’t true when considering the amount of people killed by those driving under the influence or others that have their life ended by depraved indifference or a driver’s inattentiveness and careless behavior.

If the goal is to reduce the loss of life - especially when it isn’t a decision made by one to end their own life - then the most effective thing to do that is step up the attack on those who ultimately chose a vehicle as part of their murderous ways.

Perhaps a judge might be more sympathetic of a state law that goes after people who illegally drive either because they have not obtained a driver’s license or had it suspended.

It’s too bad that all of the debate is focused around guns and irresponsible behavior when you could make a lot more headway in reducing the annual death rate of Americans by applying the same full court press to those who climb behind the wheel.