A reader writes:
It has often occurred to me that the debate over pit bulls neatly parallels the debate over guns in American society.
Yes, they can be fun. Yes, if you take the proper precautions, the danger is reduced, and given the number of them around, it's a fairly small risk. Yes, people opposed to them may show a certain irrational fear about them. But that's only because when something goes wrong, it goes catastrophically wrong, and people end up dead, severely injured, or disfigured. And a good number of us don't want to be around them, because being exposed to an unquantifiable, but potentially life-threatening risk every time you go outdoors is an unfair and unreasonable burden for innocents to bear. And we have not yet devised a good method to deal with such stupidity ahead of time in a free society short of severe regulation.
Your discussion of pit bulls brings up a question: If they're so dangerous (which is debatable), why not ban them? Well, we tried that a few years ago in Ontario after a few well publicized pit bull attacks. First, it turns out it's really hard to do. A very good friend of my uncle's worked on the legislation and turning the broad government direction "Let's ban all pit bulls" into legislative language is extraordinary complicated. One of the primary reasons being that the problem dogs likely aren't registered pure breeds and banning them certainly doesn't increase the incentive to do so.
Finally, it also turns out that after six years such a ban has had very little effect in reducing dog bite incidents. The Toronto Humane Society is against the legislation and the countless dogs that have been destroyed because of it.