Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Note to Self: Bike Helmets Are Not Bullet-Proof

This is nuts.
Charles Alexander Diez, 42, apparently fired at the Asheville man after arguing with him about riding his bike on the busy road with his 3-year-old child in a bike seat behind him, Asheville Police Capt. Tim Splain said. (Josh Boatwright, Asheville Citizen Times, via Felix Salmon.)
But wait, it is even more bizarre than this journalistically correct paragraph implies. Keep reading.
Diez was driving his car off Interstate 40 at Exit 55 at about 11:24 a.m. Sunday when he saw Alan Ray Simons and his wife riding bikes up the road with Simons' 3-year-old son behind him in a bike seat, he said.

“He decided he needed to tell them he thought it was unsafe that they would do that and have their child out there in an area where they had a lot of traffic,” Splain said.

Diez stopped his car and confronted Simons near 1360 Tunnel Road. When Simons began to walk away, Diez shot at him, Splain said.

The bullet blew a hole through the outer lining of Simons' helmet and went straight through both sides of it, but he was not hit.
Amazing, huh? So this Diez guy must be completely out of his tree, right?
Buncombe County Sheriff's deputies found Diez's vehicle at his home on Rowland Road in Swannanoa and arrested him. Diez was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol at the time of the shooting and has no prior criminal record, Splain said. He has been employed by the Asheville Fire Department since February 1992, according to interim Chief Scott Burnette. Diez has been placed on paid leave during the investigation, Burnette said.
This case is too weird to draw any general conclusions from. But hey, overreaching is the birthright of all bloggers, so I'll try.

1) This is an extreme example of what to me seems like a really common problem--that many drivers have an irrational resentment of bicyclists. As a cyclist, I have seen this in the behavior of lots of drivers who will pull dangerous, asshole-ish moves near me (passing way too close to me, honking when they get next to me, etc.). You can also see it whenever there is a news article about a car-bicycle accident in the comments--a frightening proportion of the responses will side with the driver (regardless of the facts of the case) and excoriate cyclists in general. (In this article, however, Diez's action was so extreme that none of the commenters have defended him, as far as I can see.) As a cyclist, it's this irrational anger that I fear the most.

2) Gun rights advocates often say that an armed society would decrease gun violence because people contemplating using a gun would know that their victims (or any bystander) might be armed as well. This makes sense if you assume everyone is acting with rational self-interest when they make the decision to use a gun. Obviously that is not the case, and Diez is a really good example. Assuming the information in the article is correct, even if you had iron-clad laws prohibiting criminals or crazy people from owning guns, you wouldn't have stopped Diez.

I'm not suggesting that guns be outlawed or anything. But I would like gun rights advocates to have a little less hubris when they assert that gun violence would drop if more people carried guns. Such a statement is like the efficient market theory--it depends on self-interested people who are rational. People who fire guns at other people are not rational. They're drunk or high or crazy or jealous or...

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Blogger Rorschach said...

People who would fire at unarmed people over crap like this are not law abiding citizens so making it illegal to own or carry a gun would not have stopped him from doing so more than likely. Again, laws are for those who would follow them. It does no good to make something illegal if a criminal is not interested in following the law. After all, it is illegal to try to commit first degree murder too, but obviously this guy tried to anyway.

What outlawing carry WOULD do is prevent someone like this from defending himself.

11:25 AM  
Blogger  Robert Boyd said...

Well, since I don't recommend outlawing guns, I don't know that we have a disagreement. But the point I am making is that up until the moment he apparently lost control, this guy was an upstanding, law-abiding citizen. He wasn't some "gansta." The point I was making is that only rational people are deterred by the thought that the guy that they are pulling a gun on might be armed. Diez, at that moment, was not rational, and only by the grace of God is Simons alive.

11:33 AM  

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