Something Like the Truth

American can-do vanishes when the NRA check arrives

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By Robert Mann

The instinct is common; the pattern is clear: When people die in accidents or from defective or faulty products, Americans are quick to assess the problem and work to prevent it from happening again. For instance:

Whenever a commercial airliner crashes and kills hundreds of people, we determine the cause and work to prevent similar occurrences. That’s why airlines are the world’s safest mode of travel.

On American highways, cars often cross medians and strike oncoming traffic. That’s why many states, including Louisiana, erect barriers to prevent future crashes.

After decades during which more than 40,000 — sometimes 50,000 — people died annually on our highways, federal law in 1968 required automakers to install seat belts in new cars. By 1998, the government also mandated airbags in all new automobiles.

When someone tainted bottles of Tylenol with potassium cyanide in 1981, killing seven people in the Chicago area, it sparked a revolution in the packaging of over-the-counter medication and resulted in the 1983 Federal Anti-Tampering Act.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the federal government dramatically increased security at airports and on airplanes. 

A would-be shoe bomber tried to blow up a plane on a flight from Paris to Miami in 2001. Today, most U.S. passengers cannot board a commercial jet without removing their shoes.

After 32 infants died in drop-down cribs from 2000 to 2010, the federal Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the manufacture, sale and resale of such cribs.

In the 1980s, more than 6,000 people were injured in lawn dart accidents. In 1982, an errant dart killed a 7-year-old child in California. By 1988, the CPSC banned them in the United States.

Thousands of children once opened medicine bottles and died or became ill after they ingested the contents. Today, child-resistant caps are used for almost all medicine bottles and many other products, such as pesticides and other household chemicals.

Several dozen people, including children, died each year after being locked inside the trunks of cars. In 2001, the federal government required that all new passenger vehicles with trunks must be equipped with an interior release latch. 

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