Talk about missing the target
The fact that violent crimes are a common occurrence in our society is not lost on me or any sensible citizen.
And, unfortunately, many of these crimes involve the use of a gun; however, the all too typical response of our California government today is to condemn the instrument rather than the one who wielded it. Talk about missing the target!
This wrong-headed reasoning has been the driving force behind a vast array of laws that both serve to restrict the rights of law abiding gun owners and provide ammo to mercenary trial lawyers.
Earlier this month, Governor Gray Davis, true to liberal form, signed into law several bad firearm related measures. Once again California’s braintrust focuses on firearms and not on criminals.
Two such measures are Assembly Bill 496 (Koretz) and Senate Bill 682 (Perata). These particularly onerous laws will permit trial lawyers to file lawsuits against gun and ammunition manufacturers based on a bizarre theory of negligent marketing. The general idea behind these suits will be that gun manufacturers should have known when they sold their products that criminals would use them to hurt others.
Specifically, this new law allows anyone suing for injuries from firearm use to offer evidence that a manufacturer should have known that the risks of harm by making its firearm available to the public outweighed the benefits of that conduct.
In each of these cases, the jury would be asked to weigh the risks and benefits of a particular firearm. The result would be to allow trial lawyers to merely assert that the availability of a particular gun to the general public caused widespread damage and severe harm without conferring any substantial social benefit.
This creates a system in which juries will decide which guns will be legal based principally on how theyfeel about the guns.
So why did Governor Davis sign this unjust legislation? Perhaps because he bought into the same lie that many of my colleagues did when these bills were debated on the senate floor.
The anti-gun lobby has carefully spread the false claim that the firearm manufacturing industry is shielded from products liability lawsuits and that legislation was needed to bring them into parity with other industries.
Contrary to the rhetoric of Governor Davis and other liberal politicians, current law does not provide firearms manufacturers with any special immunity or protection against lawsuits. Gun makers are liable for faulty products just as any other product manufacturer would be.
What the Governor really wants to get at with this new law, is the position taken by courts throughout the United States regarding firearm and ammunition lawsuits.
They have consistently dismissed product defect claims against firearms manufacturers where the injury was caused by a non-defective firearm which functioned as designed. Manufacturers of lawful products are not responsible under product liability law for the injury caused by the criminal misuse of their non-defective products.
What this means is that a plaintiff cannot say a firearm is defectively designed simply because when discharged it has the potential to cause injury or death.
Firearms are designed to fire bullets and are inherently dangerous; therefore, even the manufacturer of the finest quality firearm will be subject to these lawsuits.
In short, this new law encourages penalizing third parties and discourages personal responsibility.
The cause of gun related injuries is the person who discharges the gun.
To impose negligence liability on a manufacturer who has done nothing more than produce an unflawed, but inherently dangerous, product is outrageous.
We do need to address the problem of gun-related crime; however, it’s the thugs and criminals who terrorize our schools and streets that are the problem.
We need to aim our legislative guns at them, not at companies.
What’s next? General Motors? Lord knows, my son’s Chevy pick-up is a dangerous device.