NRA Strategy: Divide and Conquer

Okay; let’s try this again.

The NRA is saying that background checks won’t work because criminals will get the guns somehow anyway. They still insist we should arm every school in the nation.

I suppose an extension of this idea would be to require all movie theaters to have armed guards.  How about churches, daycare centers, and mega-super-grocery stores?

How far does this idea extend, and who pays for all of this arming-up?

We know who profits if this proposal is adopted.  It’s a win-win for the gun industry.

Let’s set aside, for a moment, all of the Second Amendment discussion that accompanies any proposal to limit access to guns; because the NRA and its manufacturing backers are successfully using that hot-button topic to distract us from who really holds control over the guns in this country.

As I wrote before, I think there is a better way to go about reducing gun violence in America: manufacturer liability.  

Why is there no push to make manufacturers responsible for ensuring that their products do not wind up in the wrong hands?  I see it mentioned here and there by other writers,  but the NRA seems to have succeeded in deflecting everyone’s attention to the unwinnable Second Amendment debate.

They know well how to divide and conquer.

Weapons manufacturers have no skin in the game.  They profit no matter who gets hurt. Sometimes even more so when a mass shooting like Connecticut sets off a weapons buying frenzy.  

With the threat of liability restored among gun-makers, I guarantee that they and the NRA will come up with some cunning new ways to limit the industry’s exposure to risk, which will, collaterally, serve to reduce gun violence.  I don’t know how they’ll do it.  I just have every confidence that they will.  

Why is the American public staked-out to assume all of the risk associated with a manufacturer’s extremely profitable product?

Senators Leahy and Sanders; Congressman Welch: how about it?

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

14 thoughts on “NRA Strategy: Divide and Conquer

  1. identifying the right people to whom to sell guns.  I’d carry that down the line to the arms dealers themselves.  Let them be the ones to propose registration as a safeguard.

  2. How about the manufacturers of alcoholic beverages? Should those manufacturers be exposed to the threat of liability, too?

    Manufacturers of alcoholic beverages produce a product that is legally sold by beer “dealers” throughout the nation. Hypothetically, let say an alcohol dealer (a bartender or store clerk) sells the manufacturer’s alcohol to an underage person who then goes out and hurts themselves and/or others. Should the manufacturer of the alcohol be held liable because they’re the ones who produced the alcohol? Or, do we instead hold the dealer accountable because they’re run afoul of the laws that have been established in order to create a legal process that minimizes the risk for this legal, but legally limited, transaction of the manufacturers product? It’s worth noting that there are currently federal limits on gun sales by dealers. For example, any person who would elect to purchase a firearm at the Powder Horn in Williston will necessarily be subjected to a federal government check prior to the transaction. The process for gun sales is much the same as the protections established by each state to ensure that those purchasing alcohol are legally permitted to do so. See this publication from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that references our “Federal Firearms Regulations”:

    http://www.atf.gov/publication

    The 3rd Restatement of Torts distinguishes products liability between three major types of product liability claims; manufacturing defect; design defect, and a failure to warn.  How would a manufacturer of firearms be held liable?

    1. The firearms gun manufacturers produce aren’t defectively manufactured, they’re used by the vast majority of their owners in a safe and lawfully permitted way.

    2. These firearms don’t have design defects; they work exactly as they’re intended to.

    3. Even those who know nothing of firearms know their potential which constitutes “warning”.

    What you appear to be seeking is a way for manufacturers to be held liable for the potential of their product. If that’s the case, which other manufacturers of potentially deadly products should victims’ have a “right to bear torts” against?

  3. I’d like to see the ban lifted on the Consumer Product Safety Commission overseeing firearms. They are strictly forbidden. It’s a cliche in some circles, but a teddy bear gets more oversight than a handgun.

    When you buy, let’s say, an electric hedge trimmer, the CPSC makes sure that 1) It won’t turn on unless you pull the trigger, 2) it won’t fall apart when you pull the trigger, and 3) if such a device slips through, it will be recalled.

    This is not the case with firearms. There are firearms that will discharge when dropped or jarred. I was reading an article in a gun mag about a test of a revolver that had to be stopped because the gun literally fell apart in the tester’s hands after 12 shots. It’s ridiculous that such a product was allowed onto the market. It’s probably still out there, along with any number of poorly made guns. There are a number of semi-auto firearms with a history of malfunctioning and burst firing extra rounds.

    The manufacturers should be on the hook for this. But kestrel is absolutely right, the dealers should be on the hook for who they sell to, just like bar owners selling to minors.

    If you look at the stats on how many dealers sell how many firearms that end up on crime scenes, it gets obvious. About 0.2% of dealers are behind about 50% of the firearms that end up on crime scenes. Most dealers have less than a half dozen such sales. A mechanism that chokes off that supply would get my vote.

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