NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

December 16, 2013

Editorial: Other voices, other views on the issues

(Continued)

GunPolicy.org estimates there are about 90,000 guns in Iceland, a country with just over 300,000 people. The country ranks 15th in the world in terms of legal per capita gun ownership. However, Iceland suffered only four deaths as a result of firearms in 2009, the last year for which data was available, according to GunPolicy.org. By comparison, the United States had 31,347 gun-related deaths that same year. That breaks down to 1.25 gun deaths per 100,000 people in Iceland, and 10.22 per 100,000 in the U.S.

And there lies a cold, hard truth: America has an unenviable, worldwide reputation of being a violent society. The key question is, why? Some blame movies and video games for poisoning our minds, and the guns themselves for giving us the means to carry out the violence we see on the screen.

-- The Brattleboro (Vt.) Reformer

A man got tired and four people died.

That, at least, appears to be what happened on Dec. 1, when a Metro-North commuter train derailed as it took a curve at 82 mph, spilling onto the banks of the Harlem River near the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, N.Y.

The train’s engineer, William Rockefeller, met with National Transportation Safety Board investigators and detectives from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City police for several hours. A union official has leaked that Rockefeller “basically nodded” while guiding the Hudson line train carrying about 150 people. This is certainly a long way from the final word on this investigation, but we don’t need a team of detectives to recognize a major flaw in the existing system.

Rockefeller came out of his daze in time to hit the brakes a few seconds before the accident. Perhaps even that last-minute act saved a few lives. But what if an engineer suffers a fatal heart attack in similar circumstances? Would every life on that train be in jeopardy? Perhaps engineers need to be held to new standards before starting the job each day. This may be an inconvenience to the many, but so is removing shoes every time we board a plane.

William Rockefeller made a mistake, but it’s not the only mistake that has been made. In 2013, we should be able to develop a system that does not leave so many lives in the hands of a single driver, whether he’s weary or not.

-- The Connecticut Post of Bridgeport, Conn.

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