Time to Level Playing Field for Gun Makers
April 26, 2005
Investors' Business Daily
By John R. Lott Jr.
Every product has illegitimate uses and undesirable consequences, but even lawsuits have had their limits. In 2002 in the U.S., car accidents killed 45,380 people and injured another 3 million, 838 children under the age of 15 drowned, 474 children died from residential fires, and 130 children died in bicycle accidents.
Fortunately, local governments haven’t started recouping medical costs or police salaries by suing auto or bicycle companies, pool builders or makers of home heaters.
All sorts of products, including cars and computers, are also used in the commission of crimes. But again, no one yet seriously proposes that these companies be sued for the losses from these crimes.
People understand what makes a car useful for everyday life also makes it useful to escape a crime and that you can't hold a car company liable for a product that’s working exactly as it should. They understand that the penalty should be on the person who uses the product improperly.
Yet suing manufacturers for costs cities incur from gun injuries and deaths is exactly the theory behind government lawsuits by cities against gun makers. George Soros, via the Brady Campaign, has funded most of these suits.
Last week, the House Judiciary Committee marked up their version of a bill to limit these suits, and the Senate will finally decide within the next couple of weeks whether these suits will continue. Last year the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" to rein in these suits was defeated when Democrats added amendments to extend the so-called assault weapons ban.
Generally, suits against gun makers haven't had any more legal success than if similar suits had been brought against car companies. There have been some short term victories such as a decision last week by the D.C. Court of Appeals that will let the city sue makers of so-called "assault weapons" used in crime.
But while gun control advocates can dream about more such victories, the Brady Campaign had more practical goals: imposing large legal costs on gun makers.
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