or “For the Best Advice on Health Care, Consult the NRA!”
I downloaded the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy “Fact Sheet” (and those quotes are there for ALL the reasons) on “Myths and Facts: Lawsuits brought by Cities or Injured Persons Against the Gun Industry.”
Allow me to fisk it. (Hey, it’s lunchtime. I’ve got an hour to kill.)
“Since 1998 more than 30 cities and counties in the United States have filed lawsuits against the firearm industry for the deaths, injuries, and other costs associated with guns.”
Um, no. Associated with the misuse of guns. That’s a critical distinction which I will return to.
“Myth: Guns are a lawful product so manufacturers should not be held liable for selling them.”
This is a myth? Anheuser Busch isn’t “held liable” for selling beer, even though alcohol is misused and is a component in more death than guns ever were. Ford isn’t “held liable” for selling cars, though they’re used in the commission of crimes.
FACT: Makers of every other product are subject to at least some liability – especially if they fail to take some reasonable steps to reduce the chance that their product will harm someone. This is how the U.S. legal system works. Guns should be no different.”
Well, THAT clears it up. Question: Don’t gun
grabbers control supporters claim that “guns are made solely to kill people?” Um, then how do you “reduce the chance” that a product – designed to kill – will “harm someone?” Don’t think too hard about that – your brain will explode.
You see, the difference here is that the lawsuits are not protesting that guns are defective, but that they’re Effective. If they filed a lawsuit against, say, Lorcin protesting that they made crappy guns that you couldn’t depend on and that would fall apart if you ran more than one magazine through one (assuming you could get a magazine through one) then that would be a product liability suit. But that’s not what they’re doing. They’re filing suit because the guns do what they’re designed to do: throw a small metal pellet at high velocity in the direction the weapon is pointed, when the loose nut behind the trigger pulls said trigger.
That’s not a failure of the gun manufacturers, it’s a failure of the operator. Case in point, watch this negligent discharge. There’s not a thing wrong with that gun except the moron with her finger on the trigger. When she pulled it, the gun fired just like it’s designed to do.
“Myth: Holding gunmakers liable for injuries caused by guns would be like holding car manufacturers liable for injures caused by drunk drivers.”
Yeah, I just said that. But nooooo they claim:
FACT: It is important to understand that lawsuits against gunmakers do not argue that the manufacturers should be liable simply because they make and sell guns. Instead they argue that there are things the manufacturer could do – but knowingly choose not to do – to make their products less likely to harm children and others, or to be used by criminals. It’s the gun manufacturers’ failure to take these reasonable and feasable steps that the lawsuits assert should make them liable. Put another way: if a car maker designed a car so that even a young child could easily operate it without permission (e.g., it didn’t need a key to start), or marketed the car (somehow) to appeal directly to drunk-drivers, we would think they were liable.”
Well, that’s interesting legerdemain. I’ve seen some of the things they want put on guns to make them “less likely to harm children.” Locks, EXTREMELY heavy triggers, magazine disconnects. Things that POLICE DEPARTMENTS eschew because the primary purpose of a handgun is self-defense, and these things make it likely that when you NEED the gun, it won’t function. It’s interesting that in the laws passed requiring the implementation of “smartgun” technologies – ostensibly to do what these lawsuits are pursuing – the police are EXEMPTED from having to implement the new technology. (Question: Are car manufacturers the subject of lawsuits because the market a product (insanely fast cars) to SPEEDERS?)
Regardless, the court isn’t the place to go in order to force manufacturers to change their products, the legislature is. They’ve tried that and failed. I love this quote from an honest judge:
As an individual, I believe, very strongly, that handguns should be banned and that there should be stringent, effective control of other firearms. However, as a judge, I know full well that the question of whether handguns can be sold is a political one, not an issue of products liability law, and that this is a matter for the legislatures, not the courts. The unconventional theories advanced in this case (and others) are totally without merit, a misuse of products liability laws.” — Judge Buchmeyer, Patterson v. Gesellschaft, 1206 F.Supp. 1206, 1216 (N.D. Tex. 1985)
Gee, ya THINK? And Judge Buchmeyer isn’t alone.
“The Court finds as a matter of law that the risks associated with the use of a firearm are open and obvious and matters of common knowledge.”
– Judge Ruehlman, Court of Common Pleas of Ohio, City of Cincinnati v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp. et al., No. A9902369, 1999 WL 809838, *1 (Ohio Com.Pl. Oct. 7, 1999).
“In the view of this Court, the City’s complaint is an improper attempt to have this Court substitute its judgment for that of the legislature, which this Court is neither inclined nor empowered to do.” Ibid. at *1.
“In substance, the City and its Mayor opt to engage in efforts at arbitrary social reform by invoking the process of the Judicial Branch of Government, where apparently the City perceives, but fails to allege, irreversible failures in the appropriate Legislative Branch(s) of Government….The City should not be permitted to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court to overlay or supplement existing civil and criminal ‘gun’ statutes and processes (either state and federal) by means of a series of judicial fiats which, when taken together, would only create a body of ‘judge made gun laws’.”
– Special Judge James J. Richards, Lake Superior Court, County of Lake, City of Gary v. Smith & Wesson, Cause No. 45D05-005-CT-243, slip op. 7 (Ind. Super. Ct. Jan. 12, 2001).
“The County’s request that the trial court use its injunctive powers to mandate redesign of firearms and declare that the appellees’ business methods create a public nuisance, is an attempt to regulate firearms and ammunition through the medium of the judiciary…. The County’s frustration cannot be alleviated through litigation as the judiciary is not empowered to ‘enact’ regulatory measures in the guise of injunctive relief. The power to legislate belongs not to the judicial branch of government but to the legislative branch.”
– Judge J.J. Fletcher, District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District, Penelas v. Arms Technology, Inc., 778 So.2d 1042, 1045
There have been 33 lawsuits of this type filed. The majority have been rejected on the grounds Judge Buchmeyer cites, or other grounds having to do with the appropriateness of trying to use the courts to accomplish ends the courts are not there for. A couple have been dropped after wending their way through the appeals system, and a few are still pending. But it only takes one to get a judgement that will put the gun manufacturer(s) out of business, and the cost of fighting these cases is enough to severely wound the manufacturers. And THAT is the goal.
Whoops! Lunchtime is over. I’ll come back to this, as there is more crunchy goodness to fisk.