Implied Liability

You listen to the news every day hoping to hear that one kernel of good news that will restore your faith in humanity. These are sad times, desperate times, and a lot of times it doesn’t seem like the good guys are winning.

A blurb about Alex Jones reminded me about the little sliver of good news that poked through when the Sandy Hook families were awarded $73 million for their loss on December 14th 2012. That news was compounded when the courts awarded the families $1.5 billion from the mendacious broadcaster for defamation. I can say for a certainty that each one of those parents would gladly refuse the money to have their child back. I think we can all agree that there are some things that money can’t compensate. Society’s only hope is that the punishment is strong enough to deter the guilty from repeating their behavior.

The manufacturer of the AR-15-style weapon that killed the children, Remington, has come out of bankruptcy and reformed as two companies, one of which is located in LaGrange, Georgia. We Georgians love our guns so much that we even give the manufacturers tax abatements as well as utility and infrastructure improvements to locate here. According to our Governor, “Georgia’s firearms industry is responsible for thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of investment in our communities”, which I guess is the only consideration for encouraging a new business. The Peach State is also the “proud” home to Glock, another dispenser of indiscriminate death.

What makes the Sandy Hook settlement a big deal is that gun manufacturers have hidden behind a federal law since 2005 that protected them from lawsuits based off of liability. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act basically insulates the arms manufacturers from any suit other than outright manufacturing malfeasance. It is like Congress conspired to say what is the bare minimum these manufacturers can be held accountable for, and we’ll lower that bar a little. Fortunately, the Connecticut Attorney General opened a legal path to holding the arm manufacturers accountable for some of the carnage their products cause.

I hear a “hold on there little cowboy” in the audience. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” True enough, but guns make it way too easy to kill people, especially children. Every day, 22 children and teens (1-17) are shot in the United States”. That can’t be acceptable, not for one second. In my mind, the wounded children are the result of bad policy coupled with the insatiable greed of the armaments people. Even the association founded to promote gun safety bears a tremendous amount of liability for their part in the slaughter.

There are many things that can be done to make gun ownership safer. Sadly, in this article the NRA is promoting the idea that a lighter trigger pull is always a good thing. Ironically, in this article we can see that the necessary strength to pull a trigger exists in a four year old. I recall the story about a three year old that shot his mother to death in a parked car. Clearly gun manufacturers should be held responsible for making their products child safe. My God, even the pill bottle manufacturers can do that and their products cost pennies. It’s ridiculous to think that the manufacturers of weapons that cost thousands of dollars can’t make their products child proof.

One area that the Sandy Hook settlement did seem to provide a way forward is a way to hold gun manufacturers liable for their advertising. Romancing the idea of gun ownership is morally repugnant. I hope that going forward we can be spared any more tragedies committed by wannabe Rambos. Teenagers have enough to sort through without a gun manufacturer telling them that they have the solution to all of their problems.

Hopefully the Sandy Hook settlement will provide a way for everyone touched by a gun tragedy to get some some vengeance on the death dealers. Maybe there will be a class action suit. I can’t wait. The lawsuit / settlement would be enormous. It seems to me that if we can put a man on the moon we should be able to prevent a toddler from shooting his Momma.

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