Monday, November 2, 1998 5:39 PM
It's finally happened. Taking a cue from the recent plague of tobacco
lawsuits, the city of New Orleans has now brought a suit against fifteen gun
manufacturers in addition to pawnshops, dealers, and firearms organizations.
Of course, there are big differences between this suit and the ones against
the cigarette manufacturers. The latter claimed that the corporations knew
their products were addictive, and sought to make them more so. That
obviously doesn't apply to handguns. Instead, the focus is on how dangerous
the weapons are. Apparently "under the Louisiana product liability statute,
a manufacturer can be held liable for damage caused by a product that is
unreasonably dangerous in design." Unreasonably dangerous? You're not
alone if you think that sounds a little strange when spoken about a firearm.
They're designed to be dangerous, otherwise they're useless. But
then, acting as a partner in this lawsuit is the Center to Prevent Handgun
Violence (CPHV), just another branch of Sarah Brady's Handgun Control, Inc.
The real gist of their argument, it seems, is that manufacturers have
not incorporated enough "smart gun" systems into modern firearms to keep
them from being used by children and "unauthorized" users (i.e. criminals
who steal them). Therefore, the manufacturers should be held responsible
for all deaths caused by the aforementioned group. Nevermind that these
systems have not been proven reliable yet, nor do they exist on the hundreds
of millions of guns already owned and used in the United States. I think
the plaintiffs will have a hard time showing that all of the deaths they're
citing were all committed by firearms that were produced since this
so-called "smart gun" technology was created. And of course, the logical
follow-up to this lawsuit is to sue the knife manufacturers for making such
an inherently dangerous product. Do you know how many thousands of people
are killed each year by "unauthorized" knife users?
The whole concept is patently ridiculous, of course. It's simply
another symptom of the growing "find someone to blame" syndrome that plagues
our country. We can't expect the criminals to stop killing people or hold
them responsible for their actions, it seems. Some larger, shadowy
organization must be at fault. We can't take responsibility for keep our
guns locked up and hidden away, out of the hands of children. The gun
makers should. Just you wait. Soon enough there'll be a lawsuit holding
the manufacturers responsible for injuries sustained because a "smart gun"
failed to fire at some bad guy. Somebody always has to be held responsible,
no matter what. Right?