Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 31, 2005
Courts have ruled that businesses aren't responsible for products
This is in reference to Katie Paulson's column "Firearm 'protection bill' protects wrong people." Would she agree that suits that are lost, or perhaps suits that are labeled "frivolous" by a jury, should be paid for (both sides) by the person or group that brings the suit?
One of the points that she does not raise is that the documented solicitations by groups like the Brady Center and the Violence Policy Center/Institute asked for contributions for the purposes of suing gun owners. They said things like, "If we can sue enough times in enough different courts, the gun companies cannot afford the legal expenses."
Several (smaller) gun companies were forced to simply to shut their doors (or sell out or reorganize) because they could not afford legal expenses. Most gun companies are small. Most cannot afford thousand of hours of attorneys' fees in cases that drag on for years, particularly when those cases are being pursued by attorneys paid for with tax dollars or by nonprofit foundations.
Our systems of jurisprudence are based on case law - that when a case has been decided, the same issue does not need to be decided again. Courts have consistently ruled that businesses (not just gun businesses) are not liable for the criminal misuse of their products. (Remember that a vehicle has been used in every drive-by shooting. Should Ford or GM be sued? Or how about drunk driving? The automakers know that some people who use their products will drive while intoxicated. When someone is killed, should Ford or GM accept the financial liability for a 12- year-old vehicle that has been sold three times?)
These are serious questions. I would hope that your pursuit of truth will lead you to consider them.
La Grange, Texas
Gun makers not responsible for direct misuse of their products
Katie Paulson has an interesting sense of justice. I find it rather insulting to read a warning on a product that states simple common sense just because some person claimed ignorance when they dried his or her hair in a bathtub full of water or used a sunshade while driving his or her car. Shielding gun manufacturers is just one step toward stopping these ridiculous lawsuits that force such things as warnings that a hot cup of coffee may actually be hot.
Gun makers are not responsible for the direct misuse of their products. If such responsibilities existed, I would sue every car manufacturer for selling its cars to the reckless drivers in Tucson. If victims want reparations they should target those who commit a crime. Legally manufacturing guns is not a crime. Once their product is out of their hands, they are not responsible for its misuse (hence why bongs can be legally sold for tobacco).
Guns are tools and they can kill, but so can a hammer, a screwdriver, a pillowcase and almost any other object. Would you hold Craftsman responsible for the death of a woman bludgeoned to death by her husband because they didn't make sure the hammer fell into responsible hands?
If one wants to try and keep guns out of the hands of the inept and dangerous, press for federal licensing, not that state-issued driver's licenses make the roads much safer, but unlike cars, guns are protected by the lovely and logical Second Amendment.
People need to learn to take personal responsibility for their actions and the victims should learn that money doesn't heal all wounds.
Junior majoring in creative writing and political science
Criminals ultimately to blame for misuse of firearms
Katie Paulson's article "Firearm 'protection bill' protects wrong people" suggests that the ultimate responsibility for gun violence resides with the gun manufacturers. Though obviously manufacturers should make every effort to sell their products only to responsible citizens, they really have no control over what those individuals do with the gun.
If a person has no criminal record and passes a background check, what else should be required for that person to buy a gun? If after buying a gun, that person goes and commits a crime with it, how is it anyone else's responsibility besides that person? He's the one who used that gun in a crime, and he should be the person held responsible.
Ms. Paulson also mentions the fact that "alternatives such as mediation, arbitration and eventual settlements weed out most (civil) cases" as if this can be seen as a good thing. Sure it reduces the load on our justice system, but it breeds the mindset "I'll just sue and hope for a settlement because it will be cheaper to pay me off than go to court." So because the lawsuit never goes before a jury it's no longer frivolous?
When blaming the gun manufacturers and sellers first before condemning the criminals who use guns in crimes, it takes the responsibility away from the criminal. It's just not possible for these manufacturers to keep track of where every single gun they make and sell goes and what it's used for. Before blaming the easy target of the manufacturers, one has to remember who it is who's committing the actual crime.
electrical engineering freshman