Update at bottom
There’s been a lot of buzz about the incident in Northern Virginia on I-95 involving a dump truck ramming a Jaguar and the driver of the Jag responding with gunfire.
I haven’t commented because the details are still a little murky and I don’t want to jump to any premature conclusions. It is unclear at this time whether the shooter’s actions were a result of anger, or legitimate fear for his and his child’s life in the face of a vehicular assault.
AAA seems not so reticent, however. In this article about the incident, AAA Mid-Atlantic Manager of Public and Government affairs John Townsend is eager to take a stand:
“More than 1,500 people are killed or injured in road rage incidents each year in this country and when you add a gun to the mix the situation is more likely to spiral out of control,” said AAA John B. Townsend II. “Gun-toting drivers are more likely to become involved in road rage incidents, study after study has confirmed.”
Studies have shown that young men, and young adults overall, have admitted to making obscene gestures, cursing or blatantly shouting at other drivers while they were carrying a handgun, said Townsend. He quoted a 2006 Harvard study of 2,400 drivers, which showed motorists who carry guns inside their car are more likely to engage in road rage.
Of course, he claims the backing of “study after study” to rationalize his bigotry against gun owners, yet cites only one in support…one that happens to have been authored by perennial anti-gun hack “researcher” David Hemenway. The cited “study” consisted of a telephone poll which asked people if they had made obscene or rude gestures at another motorist, or had aggressively followed another vehicle too closely in the past year; after a series of other inconsequential or demographic inquiries, the question “how many days in the past 12 months have you ridden in a motor vehicle in which there was a gun?” was asked.
No questions were asked as to whether a gun was present at the time the gesture or tail-gating incident occurred, whether the person answering the question was in possession, or even had access to, the firearm, whether the person who had possession of the firearm was licensed to carry a concealed handgun or even legally qualified to possess the firearm, or any other effort to clarify.
In other words, the “study” doesn’t even TRY to make the connection that it implies and that Mr. John Townsend of AAA contends is settled science.
In a prime example of the weakness of the methodology, John Lott, in reviewing the “Study” a while back, noted that:
The paper also has some funny results. For example, Liberals are apparently much more likely to engage in road rage than conservatives and the difference is larger than the difference between those who did and did not have a gun at least one time in their car over the last year. This variable is apparently never investigated, but presumably they are also concerned about liberals being allowed to drive cars.
I wonder, would Mr. Townsend of AAA condemn Liberals as quickly as he does gun owners based on this so obviously meaningless pseudo science?
I’ve got a call out to the National AAA Public Affairs office and am awaiting a callback to find out if Mr. Townsend’s statement is representative of AAA National policy, or only his own personal opinion. I would contend that if Mr. Townsend was speaking as a private individual rather than a representative of AAA, he should have made that very clear. If AAA does not endorse his sentiment, they should issue a statement to that effect as soon as possible as I’m sure it is information that the millions of law abiding gun owners in this country would like to know when making decisions about joining, or remaining a member, of their auto clubs.
I’ll update as soon as I get more information.
Update: I never got my promised callback from the National PR person. I called again today and got his voice mail. I left him another message, but still haven’t gotten a return call.
Also, I replied to Mr. Townsend’s 7 paragraphs of not answering the question (see comments) via e-mail but he has so far declined to respond.
I’m trying to give them all the opportunities I can to clear this issue up but they simply don’t seem to be very worried about doing so. Apparently, keeping gun owners as members simply doesn’t interest them very much. I’m still not quite ready to declare them anti-gun and add them to my list of organizations I’ll never have anything to do with, but if they continue just ignoring the issue, I’ll have no choice but to assume that AAA officially endorses and supports the position stated by Mr. Townsend.
I’ll update again if I hear anything more from them or when I decide that I’m not going to…whichever comes first.
Crossposted on The Sentinel