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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Special rights follow-up

Posted by: Hammer / 12:40 PM

We covered the Senate's passage of the Gun Manufacturers Irresponsibility Act of 2005 (sponsored by the NRA) two weeks ago. Over the weekend, Dan Nygaard responded:

Imagine if the trial lawyers began suing General Motors or Ford Motor Co. every time a drunken driver caused damage. The automobile industry would be crippled, and this would have been the likely outcome for the firearms industry as well.

Interestingly, the Strib identified Nygaard as an "operations director" from Big Lake, Minnesota. More relevant might be the fact that he is the the 6th District GOP party chair.

What of the merit of the argument, though? That suing a gun manufacturer is like suing a car maker for the act of a drunk driver. Not quite. Here's one suit that would be blocked:

If the bill becomes will eradicate the case brought by the family of Danny Guzman, a 26-year-old father of two who was shot in the chest on Christmas Eve, 1999, as he entered a Worcester pub....

...the gun that killed him was one that a Kahr employee sold from parts he had stolen from work. Since the guns had not yet been stamped with a serial numbers, they could not be traced, according to the lawsuit.

The family has been in court for two years, seeking damages from Kahr on the grounds that the company was negligent in not doing background checks on its employees or providing adequate security at the plant.

Here's another real world example:

Lawyers with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Mark LeWinter of the Anapol Schwartz law firm today filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Faheem Thomas-Childs, the 10 year-old Philadelphia boy who was shot and killed as he walked through the gates of his elementary school, on February 11, 2004. The suit seeks to recover damages from the gun companies who negligently supplied the gang members who shot him with the Ruger handgun used to kill Faheem.

The suit alleges that American Gun and Lock (f/k/a Fishtown Lock and Gun), of Girard Avenue in Philadelphia, negligently sold the murder weapon in a straw sale to gang members. A criminal, who was not permitted to buy guns, accompanied the straw purchaser to the store, picked out the gun, and supplied the money to the straw purchaser who did the paperwork for the transaction. The store's clerk even charged a "handling fee" for the straw purchase, which the criminal paid. American Gun had sold guns to several other gun traffickers over the years.

Should a manufacturer of a product designed to kill exercise some care of the employees it hires? Should a seller of a product designed to kill follow the law when selling the product? Juries have traditionally answered such questions. The NRA and the Republican party are afraid of what Americans would think when they hear such terrible tales of negligence.

The Congress has made it easier to get guns in the hands of criminals. Remember this law the next time someone says gun control doesn't work -- it's because Republicans don't want it to work.

Addendum: Nygaard also argues: "Remember, these are the same firearms manufacturers that produce the various firearms and bullets used by our troops in Iraq and around the world. Do we really want to rely on foreign countries to supply our military with guns in times of war?"

Beretta USA makes the standard military side arm. Beretta USA is actually a subsidiary of an Italian company: Beretta Holding SpA. One more fraudulent argument down the drain.


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