House Republican Tom Cole Thinks Guns Are No More Dangerous Than Trucks

Just days after a gunman opened fire in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing 59 people and injuring nearly 500 others, Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to offer his thoughts on gun violence.

Quite a few of his comments stood out, including a bizarre assertion that guns are “not dangerous” and complaints about the logistics of ”reclaiming” illegal weapons in the event of a ban.

But the remark that really has people talking is his comparison between guns and trucks.

Cole may have been trying to suggest that a gun on its own is just a tool. After all, many people operate guns safely and within the law, much like a truck — but both have the potential to become weapons.

Certainly the prospect of using trucks in violent attacks in which they are ”driven into crowds” or used to take down buildings by a “guy with fertilizer and a truck” is nothing new. This kind of terrorism weighs heavily on Oklahoma in particular, thanks to the legacy of the Oklahoma City Bombing. And trucks have been deliberately steered into crowds to kill and frighten people in the United States, France and England recently.

In the sense that anything can become a weapon, Cole isn’t entirely wrong; humans are extremely creative and determined — nearly anything can be used to inflict harm. Banning the production, sale and distribution of any object that could plausibly be used in murder is clearly impossible.

But is this really a fair comparison?

Cole wants Americans to believe that reasonable restrictions on gun ownership supported by the vast majority of the country aren’t fair to the “good guys with guns” out there.

There are 300 million legal guns in circulation in the United States, spanning a broad spectrum of variations, from military-grade equipment to basic hunting rifles. The Las Vegas shooter brought 23 legal weapons — including “bump stocks” to convert them from semiautomatic to automatic fire — with him on Sunday, and he left many more at home.

Meanwhile, there are 263 million registered passenger vehicles in the United States. In some states, the requirements surrounding car ownership seem more stringent than gun ownership — regulating guns to the level of “truck control” could actually be a step forward.

Drivers generally need to maintain licenses in good standing, as well as insurance, while their vehicles themselves must be registered and capable of passing routine safety inspections. Drivers can be penalized for failing to obey the law, and they may face fines, jail time, license suspension or loss of their licenses for engaging in reckless behavior.

But this isn’t just a question of whether guns should be regulated like trucks, or vice versa, because guns and trucks are designed for different things.

The sole function of a gun is killing: Guns have been meticulously instrumented to carry out maximum damage with maximum efficiency, and developments like armor piercing rounds enhance the lethal performance of gun. People buy guns because they want to kill — or to practice killing, in the case of target shooting. 33,000 people are killed in gun deaths including accidents, homicides and suicides every year.

Trucks, on the other hand, are designed to carry and transport people and goods. They can be fatal in accidents – 35,000 people were killed in over six million traffic collisions in 2015 — but they aren’t designed to kill. In fact, extensive work has gone into increasing passenger vehicle safety.

Using a truck as a lethal weapon is highly unusual and tragic, and it’s not something that could have been predicted. Overall, the number of passenger vehicles involved in murders remains relatively low. But using a gun to kill someone is a perfectly natural manifestation of the weapon’s intended purpose.

Cole’s attempt to minimize the severity of the gun crisis in the United States fell flat because he failed to recognize what Americans already know: Guns kill people because they’re designed to kill people.

Photo credit: Governor Tom Wolf

54 comments

Joette B
Joette B7 days ago

reality does not work with the cult of 45 THEY DON'T CARE

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David F
David F9 days ago

Fake News s.e. smith like to censor the other side of every story.

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David F
David F9 days ago

Debbi W Fake News has you blinded from history.

Recall last years Nice, France, 86 people killed and 458 injured in less time by a truck.
It wasn’t the truck that killed them.

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David F
David F9 days ago

Only a river and a wall separate El Paso Texas where concealed guns are prolific and the death penalty is real, and the city of Juarez Mexico where all firearms are illegal and there is no death penalty.

In 2010, El Paso had five murders, the same year, across the river where possession of a bullet is prison time, Ciudad Juárez had more than 3,500 murders, according to press reports and government statistics compiled by New Mexico State University.

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s9 days ago

Stupid little man.

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Winn A
Winn A10 days ago

Another GOP wacko

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Winn A
Winn A10 days ago

Petition Signed

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Leanne K
Leanne K10 days ago

The best comparison is.. its a massacre times 2 everyday in the states

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Leanne K
Leanne K10 days ago

Such rot. Its a ridiculous comparison.

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Ruth Rakotomanga
Ruth Rakotomanga11 days ago

Yeah, well, theoretically you could kill 59 people with a kitchen knife, too. I'm waiting for the FBI to find out the guy's motive. There had to be something eating him for him to go to such lengths of preparation without anyone noticing. Obviously US gun laws have to be changed, but in the meantime, couldn't there be a central data system that flags people buying a certain quantity or type of firearm? It's done for dubious credit card transactions, it should be possible for guns too.

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