“Van Control”

(I’m re-posting a Facebook comment here, because it might be useful in the future. All snark has been preserved, because I’m sick of this crap.)

The post:

When a 64 year old white man kills 58 and wounds 500 in fifteen minutes from 1200 feet with a knife, I will absolutely call for knife control. Until then, you've made the world's shittiest point.

The response:

A van killed 86 people in less than 3 mins, van control anyone????

The comment:

Oh, you sweet, sweet man. You’re obviously new here.

Now, I’m going to proceed as if you were a rational adult asking an earnest question in a good faith effort to gain greater understanding of a complex issue. Because I sincerely hope that’s what you are after.

“Van control.”

Vans are, of course, automobiles. Automobiles are subject to rigorous safety standards by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and, to varying degrees, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and other federal and state agencies.

Automobile owners are required by state law to submit their automobiles for periodic inspections, and they must display evidence of an up-to-date inspection on their windshields or license plates.

Every state in the nation, plus the District of Columbia and other territories, requires people to obtain a driver’s license in order to operate an automobile on public roads, or really anywhere other than on their own property. Obtaining a driver’s license typically requires completing a driver’s education course and satisfying various other criteria, such as ensuring that a person’s eyesight is not impaired to a degree that would prevent safe operation of a motor vehicle. Drivers must renew their licenses periodically, and may be required to submit to further eyesight testing.

Operating a vehicle without a license is a traffic offense in every jurisdiction, and may be subject to criminal prosecution under some circumstances.

State laws place additional restrictions on operation of a motor vehicle, such as by prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances. See also: speed limits, turn signals, etc.

Individuals who violate traffic laws may face suspension of their driver’s license. Operation of a motor vehicle with a suspended license is itself a traffic and/or criminal offense. Repeat offenders may face permanent license revocation.

Every motor vehicle operated on public roadways must be registered with the state or county, and must bear a unique identifier that is prominent and visible. Typically this identifier is embossed on metal plates placed at the front and rear of the vehicle.

Failure to display a vehicle’s license plate is a traffic offense. Some jurisdictions treat even partial obscuring of a license plate as a traffic offense.

Revocation of vehicle registration is a penalty for certain offenses, including DWI, in some jurisdictions.

Law enforcement officials at the municipal and county level routinely assign officers to perform the sole task, for hours at a time, of monitoring public roadways for traffic law compliance.

Use of a motor vehicle in commission of a violent crime can serve to enhance the severity of a charged offense, e.g. assault by auto, vehicular homicide.

“Van control”

Vans are already subject to quite a few controls, I’d say.

Since you brought up vans, it might be worth looking at the primary purpose of that particular device.

If I need to transport a large, but not enormous, amount of materials from one point to another, should I use a van, or a gun?

I’m using a van.

The primary purpose of a van is to move people and things from point A to point B.

The sole purposes of a gun are:
1. To propel small pieces of metal at incredibly high rates of speed, and with varying degrees of accuracy, with the possible result of injury or death if flesh is in the path of said small pieces of metal; and
2. To threaten to propel small pieces of metal at incredibly high rates of speed into a person’s flesh.

Now, one could use a van to kill people, but that is not a van’s intended purpose. A van has a useful purpose that has nothing todo with killing or maiming.

In a pinch, one could use the butt of some (not all) pistols as a crude hammer, but that is not its intended purpose, nor is it a particularly wise thing to do.

Guns have always been designed and intended to kill. The earliest guns, c. 13th century, were known as “hand cannons,” and were literally handheld cannons fired by lighting fuses. They were scaled-down cannons, which have always been instruments of warfare. It took centuries to make firearms accurate enough to have any use beyond firing semi-randomly at one’s enemies.

Vans are a way to move things. They followed from the horse-drawn carriage, which was also a way to move things far more than it was ever a way to mow things down.

In light of all of this, the rational conclusion to be gleaned from your comment abount “van control” is that gun ownership should be subject to *at least* as much regulation as the ownership and operation of vans.

But something tells me that’s not what you’re saying.

Now, as for the 86 people being killed, that is a tragedy, and certainly something that was not intended by whomever invented the van.

You cannot honestly say, though, that killing 86 people never occurred to gun makers as a potential use of their products.

So what are you actually saying?

Well, despite all these laws and regulations regarding the ownership and operation of vans, someone still managed to use one to commit a horrible crime.

Yet you are not calling for deregulation of vans.

You are calling for the opposite of that—further regulation of something that is already rather extensively regulated.

I think, rather, that you are indirectly making the point that additional regulation of firearms will not prevent atrocities from occurring. To which I say: no shit.

Drunk driving is illegal, and yet people still drive drunk. No one suggests legalizing DWI because the laws just ain’t working.

Similarly, no one who should be taken seriously suggests that sensible gun regulations would stop *all* gun violence.

A person would have to be pretty dim to think that. They’d have to be pretty dim to think that this is the primary motivation of gun control advocates.

But I know you’re not dim. You are here asking a good faith question out of an earnest desire to learn more about a complex issue.


Maybe I’m wrong, though. Maybe this was just an effort at snark on your part. Maybe you thought calling for “van control” was some sort of clever rejoinder (that you ripped off from Ben Shapiro), and you’ve been smiling quietly to yourself over how smart you are.

If I am wrong about you, then please, just know this:

I am ordinarily a supporter of gun rights.

I have not been a supporter of most gun control measures.

Until now.

When “van control” is the best that gun rights advocates can do, it calls into question whether you should be trusted with a regular fork at dinner, let alone a firearm. You are a profound disappointment to me, and to countless others who are coming to realize that you have nothing of value to offer.


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