|The scene after the crash caused by Steven Badke|
The original charges of criminally negligent homicide were thrown out by Judge C. Randall Hinrichs because he said that Badke's actions were that of someone who merely failed to perceive risk, rather than the legal definition of criminal negligence which stipulates that a person must create risk. I would argue that going 80mph and crossing the center line to pass another vehicle creates a serious risk to others (indeed, it took three peoples' lives in this case), but Judge Hinrichs seems to think otherwise.
So while Badke will serve only 10 days for each life he took (if he even serves the full 30), an equally dumb professional football player may well go to prison for over 42 times as long as Badke for carrying a gun and shooting himself in the leg, killing no one and injuring only himself. Yet the ironic thing is that 43,443 people died on American roads in 2005 (according to the DOT) while just under 31,000 deaths were reported due to guns in 2005 (with 55% of those deaths resulting from suicide). So if ten thousand more people are killed every year by a car than a gun, why does someone who kills three people while driving like a maniac get sentenced to less than the mandatory minimum for someone who merely possesses an unlicensed firearm (without intent to use it on another person)? It just does not make sense. Would Badke only be getting 30 days if he and his friends were fooling around with guns rather than cars?
If you kill someone recklessly, you kill someone recklessly; it does not matter how. If you go out randomly firing a gun around and hit someone, resulting in their death, you've killed them. If you go around driving without any regard for the people around you and hit someone, resulting in their death, you've killed them. I don't see much of a difference. If you're convicted of having an unlicensed firearm, you are a felon and can never legally own a firearm again. How much do you want to bet that at some point Badke will get his license, and thus the ability to drive, back, despite killing three people in a 100% avoidable car accident in which he was 100% at fault.
I'm not advocating the softening of the gun laws, I am saying that we need to harden the driving laws. You want to drive like that and kill people, you don't get your license back. Period. You kill multiple people while driving recklessly, you pay for it with more than 10 days per death. If you got your license permanently taken away for life for something like DUI, don't you think people would think twice about it? If you knew that you faced serious prison time - not just a slap on the wrist - for killing people while driving, don't you think people would be a little more careful on the roads? Instead, folks know that they can drive however they want and get away with it. This case is simply an example of that.