Apples, Oranges, and Bowling Shoes

The Hill is reporting on a sure to fail bill that 24 democrats are sponsoring. The Bill is called “The Equal Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act” and would allow the victims of gun violence to sue firearm manufacturers. For those familiar with this bill, the original version died in congress in 2013. It is unlikely that this bill would move through a Republican congress. I’m not certain what I want to call these bills. They are pretty much drafted with no hope of passage, and they take up time in the legislature, simply so a politician can either say they are doing something or to get PR points against the other side. Both parties do it. If you have an idea, please let me know.

Anyway, the bill seeks to confuse who is actually liable when someone is the victim of violent crime. From the article: “If you’re a carmaker and your airbags kill someone, you’re potentially liable,” continued (Rep Adam) Schiff (D-CA), one of the lawmakers behind the gun control bill. “If you’re a pharmaceutical company and sell faulty drugs, you can be held liable. If you’re a liquor store and sell alcohol to minors, you can be held liable.” (Devaney. 2016)

Take a look at these examples. If the airbag fails to perform its intended purpose, then the car manufacturer is potentially liable. But let’s say you sought to kill someone by having an airbag deploy when it wasn’t supposed to? Here you’ve taken an item and used it for a malicious purpose. Would you sue Ford?

The same is true with the pharmaceutical example. If I upped someone’s dosage with the intent to kill someone, would you sue the drug company?  And the final example, if you sell alcohol to minors, then you would go after the store or the clerk. When kids get ahold of alcohol, they don’t sue Jack Daniels. From the other Hill article:  “In some jurisdictions, if your dog bites me, you are strictly liable. No excuses, it’s your fault, you pay,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), one of the sponsors of the bill” (Devaney. 2016)

Again. Who controls the situation? In this example, you would seek justice by going after the breeder. But no one sues dog breeders, they sue dog owners.

These are very poor examples to use, but they do because most people do not understand liability. What it really comes down to is most guns are stolen or procured off the streets when used in crimes. So you can’t go after a retailer for selling the gun. And if the owner was dutiful and reported the gun stolen to the police, they can only be so liable for failing to secure their gun. Who do the families seek financial restitution from? There are no sources in this case because it is unlikely the criminal has assets that to go after.

Hence they want to go after the gun industry. But they don’t sue knife manufacturers for stabbings. They don’t sue drug companies for overdoses. They don’t sue car companies or breweries for drunk drivers.

It is just like the Sally Kohn article I talked about in a previous post.  They are intentionally confusing product default with criminal intent because it makes it look like the gun companies have some impenetrable shield. This is only false because of the myth surrounding the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act which says you can’t sue a gun manufacturer or dealer if someone who legally purchased a firearm misuses it.

If I go to the bank, and get myself 14 rolls of quarters for use at a garage sale, but then drop them in a tube sock to beat the hell out of someone, will their family be able to sue the bank who gave me the quarters and the US Mint who manufactured them? Hmmmm….

Fletch

References:

Rep. Schiff, Adam (2013) H.R. 332 (113th): Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act. United States Congress. Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr332

Sen. Craig, Larry (2005) S. 397 (109th): Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.  United States Congress.  Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/109/s397

Devaney, Tim (2016) Dems push bill to let gun violence victims sue gun-makers.  The Hill.  Retrieved from http://thehill.com/regulation/266107-gunmakers-should-face-lawsuits-from-gun-violence-victims-dems-say

Devaney, Tim (2016) Dem bill would let shooting victims sue gun makers, dealers. The Hill.  Retrieved from http://thehill.com/regulation/267201-gun-dealers-could-be-sued-by-shooting-victims-under-new-bill

Updated 05 November 2016 for grammar, structure, and to properly cite references.

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