I have no doubt that some additional legislation, such as background checks, will help stem the tide of this endless gun violence. But the real answer is in repealing existing legislation — the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Congress has chosen to immunize from liability (not companies or individuals who engage in life-saving activities or products), but those who make a product designed to injure and kill people. Yes, there are some exceptions, but the rationale for the legislation primarily was that the industry was being sued; the litigation was costing them money, and they didn’t like it! No other industry receives such protection. Hospitals, doctors, nurses, and pharmaceutical companies engaged in researching and inventing life-saving medicines receive no such protection. All are subjected to tort laws and lawsuits.
The enactment of this legislation was such a blatant and dishonorable bow to lobbying and the NRA that it is difficult to understand how it can continue to survive in the face of almost daily mass shootings. Make the manufacturers liable; hold them accountable where they are guilty of wrongdoing in the same way every other American industry is treated; make it cost them money, and you will see a precipitous change in gun violence.
Virtually every major industry in this country has changed its policies and improved the safety of its products as the result of tort cases. They not only serve to compensate victims but equally important, they serve to change the conduct of the industry. There is absolutely no incentive for gun manufacturers to make guns safer, their distribution more accountable, or to do anything more than shrug their shoulders at each mass killing. Make them pay where they are found to be at fault and the deaths will go down.
Think about it — no gun enters the stream of commerce except a gun manufacturer. They all supposedly start out legally. Maybe if gun manufacturers were required to take a greater responsibility in their journey, or invented and produced smarter and safer guns, and were held liable for not taking all steps necessary to protect the public, the thousands of gun deaths annually might go down. If, as they claim, increased government regulation has not solved the problem, then maybe the threat of legal liability will.
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