Thursday, October 20, 2005

Lobbying Against Lawsuits

I rarely have good things to say about new laws, but here's an exception.

Today, Congress passed a bill which states that victims of crime may not sue gun manufacturers. Politicians who oppose the bill claim that it is simply a product of the powerful influence of the gun lobby and the NRA. Perhaps that is what we can attribute the passage of the bill to; however, are the gun manufacturers wrong in asking for such protection? Is it ever the responsibility of the manufacturer if someone uses its product unlawfully?

"Our laws should punish criminals who use guns to commit crimes, not law-abiding manufacturers of lawful products," Bush was quoted as saying.

He's right. But I'll take it one step further.

Government exists to protect rights and its job is not to prevent people from having the potential to violate someone else's rights; it is only to punish those who act in a way which violates someone else's rights.

A person can only be responsible for his actions. If his actions are just, and in accordance with the law (which we often presume to be just), then the indirect results of his actions, whether we deem them positive or negative, do not reflect poorly on his own actions.

A gun manufacturer makes guns. Guns are tools that, when properly used, can save lives. Like household cleaners and automobiles, when improperly used, they can be a tool to injure or kill. There is nothing innate in the metal, wood, or synthetic materials that causes harm. There is nothing innate in the construction itself that violates someone's rights. The only thing that can possibly violate the rights of another are the unjust and unlawful actions of another human.

Gun manufacturers aren't asking for much. They're not demanding subsidies or protection from competition. They are not asking for protection from product liability suits or any suits that directly address their products. They are simply demanding that they only be held responsible for their actions, and not the actions of others.

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