Last week, the National Catholic Reporter decided to attack gun rights supporters with a typically alarmist headline: “Gun rights advocates pursue their goals with no restraint.”
As part of Time magazine’s recent article on the Parkland, Florida shooting, several steps were identified that could be taken to reduce gun violence. They represent common-sense, logical steps that would seem to be acceptable to any reasonable person.
Reasonable by whose definition? Note then that, if I disagree with them, they’ve already painted me as “unreasonable” and “lacking common-sense.” Certainly they cannot be expected to have a civil debate with such a person.
Not only do gun rights advocates reject these ideas, but their attacks against them expose these advocates as failing to care about the carnage they are contributing to by their recalcitrance.
Doctors in some states are not permitted to talk to their patients about guns. Such restrictions hinder the ability of doctors to discuss safety issues with their patients. What kind of mentality would propose laws that prevent doctors from doing their jobs?
Aligned with that stance is the refusal by Congress to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the effects of guns and gun violence on our communities. In 1996, Congress passed the Dickey Amendment, which mandated that no CDC funds could be used for research that might promote gun control. What are politicians and the National Rifle Association afraid of discovering about the gun culture in our country?
Where to begin? As the Federalist notes, the CDC is not prevented from doing such research. They are, however, prohibited from advocating for gun control.
In 1996, a few years after the Center for Disease Controls had funded a highly controversial study that has since embedded itself into the “scientific” case for gun control, Arkansas Republican Jay Dickey added an amendment to a funding bill that dictated “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control” should be used to “advocate or promote gun control.” That same year, Congress also cut $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget, the amount it spent on gun control efforts. Bill Clinton signed it into law.
Absolutely nothing in the amendment prohibits the CDC from studying “gun violence,” even if this narrowly focused topic tells us little.
But never let the facts get in the way of a good narrative, such as “smart guns.”
Even more alarming is the failure to invest in safe gun technology. Technology exists through biometrics that would ensure that only the legitimate owner of a gun would be able to use it. While such technology would not prevent all shootings, it is estimated it could save 500 lives each year. While there is growing interest in the technology, opposition seems almost criminal. The idea that it is somehow more important to advocate for gun manufacturers than it is to save the lives of our young people is patently indefensible.
So, if smart guns are no good, then we at least ought to be able to sue gunmakers for the misuse of their product (which functioned as designed), right?
Finally, the fact that Congress passed a 2005 law that prevents gun manufacturers from being sued for the misuse of their products is astounding. While our society has certainly become overly litigious, how can it be that we have a right to sue anybody for anything, except gun manufacturers?
Really? Because we don’t sue car makers when some yo-yo plows through a crowd. Even NPR pointed out back in 2015 that you don’t sue a manufacturer for misuse of their product.
Adam Winkler, professor of law at UCLA and author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, said in an email to NPR:
“The 2005 law does not prevent gun makers from being held liable for defects in their design. Like car makers, gun makers can be sued for selling a defective product. The problem is that gun violence victims often want to hold gun makers liable for the criminal misuse of a properly functioning product.”
NPR expanded on this:
In other words: If you aim and fire a gun at an attacker, it’s doing what it was intended to do. If it explodes while you shoot and hurts you, though, then you can sue the manufacturer. Likewise, if you had told the gun-store owner you planned to commit a crime with that gun, your victim could potentially sue.
That law was necessitated by the fact that cities were lining up to sue gun manufacturers for the criminal misuse of their project as a way to get at the gun industry.
Break this whole article down and it’s just one more attack on normal, law-abiding folks who happen to own guns, painting them as deranged lunatics who do not care about other people.
Straight out of Alinsky folks. They never change the playbook: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”