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Guns that kill

By Gregory J. Hand
web posted August 27, 2001

For most Californians the unholy trinity of evil is cigarettes, SUV's and guns (capitalism and private property rights being fourth and fifth). Despised by the rather substantial busybody class which permeates the state, the wealthy, highly educated, self-anointed elites and their minions, this threesome would have already been banned were it not for the tax revenue, love and adoration of the soccer mom crowd, and the second amendment, respectively. Not that efforts to greatly encumber their use and enjoyment are not repeatedly tried.

Unfortunately for most Californians, this dislike of guns was done no service when California's Supreme Court recently ruled in a 5-1 vote that the evil gun manufacturer Navegar, maker of a TEC-DC9 military-style assault pistol, was not liable in the criminal use of that weapon. The case involved a 1993 shooting in San Francisco that killed nine people and wounded six, including the assailant, Gian Luigi Ferri, who committed suicide after his little rampage. Mr. Ferri, for the record, legally purchased the weapon in question in Nevada.

From a Reuters Story on the dismissal, "With its decision, the California court joined a growing list of federal and state courts which have absolved gunmakers of liability for crimes committed with legal, non-defective firearms -- undercutting gun control activists who want to sue them for what they see as negligence in marketing weapons used in murders." Despite the silly notion that just manufacturing guns, in many people's narrow little minds, is criminal enough, why would the evil gun manufacturer Navegar, or anyone else for that matter, need absolution for producing a legal and non defective product just because some nutcase got hold of one and used it to kill people? Is this just a matter of trying to specifically bankrupt gun manufacturers using any means possible, or is it simply just another industry from whom the trial lawyers can easily extract money quicker than Jesse Jackson?

Ernest Getto, a lawyer for the evil gun manufacturer Navegar, commented that, "It was an unbelievable, unspeakably horrible tragedy that was perpetrated by a homicidal maniac, but to hold the manufacturer of lawfully-made and lawfully-sold firearms responsible for it would be wrong." Mr. Getto, how naive of you, sir. Your client, in just creating such a weapon, must be guilty of something. Even on the off chance that they are not, the extortion racket is not going to let them go cheaply anyway, so just pay up.

Despite the gun control fanatics' best protests to blame the equipment and absolve the person, it would be idiotically wrong to blame either the firearm or the manufacturer for what had occurred. The evil gun manufacturer Navegar, like Mercedes, sells a legal product. That Mr. Ferri used the gun for illegal purposes is no more the fault of the evil gun manufacturer Navegar than Mercedes is responsible that Hampton's hag Lizzie Grubman deliberately rammed her daddy's Mercedes SUV into a crowd of people. Both used a legal product in an illegal manner, yet no one has yet sued Mercedes. Yet.

No one really seemed happy with the decision to (gasp!) not hold the gun manufacturer liable, even those Justices that voted toward that result, "In reaching this conclusion, we are not insensitive to the terrible tragedy that occurred," wrote Justice Ming Chin in the court's majority opinion, "'But...the (state) Legislature has set California's public policy regarding a gun manufacturer's liability under these circumstances." In other words, don't blame them. Blame the legislators. Better still, blame the NRA and Republicans.

Justice Kathryn Werdegar, in her lone dissent, added, "Until such action is taken (revoking the gun manufacturers liability exemption), gunmakers, including makers of assault weapons banned in California, will apparently enjoy absolute impunity from the consequences of their negligent marketing decisions." Consequences of negligent marketing decisions? What the hell is she talking about? Does she even know what she's talking about?

Since it is fairly safe to assume that the evil gun manufacturer Navegar didn't oversee an ad campaign extolling the virtues of this particular weapon in massacres, what exactly are the criteria that make a marketing program ‘negligent'? Is it one that merely highlights the features of the weapon, or is it an advertisement that doesn't have a disclaimer specifically requesting that people not engage in such violent and illegal behavior? Perhaps it is just making such a product available to the public?

As if the court's obvious guilt was not enough, relatives of the victims also had their own input over the ruling, "I'm very disappointed in the court's decision. I was hoping they would hold (the evil gun manufacturer) Navegar accountable for the sale of their killing machine," lamented Steven Sposato, whose wife had been killed in the San Francisco shooting. First of all a gun, per se, is not a killing machine. In the wrong hands it very well may be, but in the possession of a responsible, upstanding, law-abiding citizen, it is a weapon of defense, a weapon of deterrence. The mental cases are a different story altogether.

Instead of focusing in on the gun, like gun haters tend to do, would it not be reasonable to conclude that Mr. Ferri was the ‘killing machine' in this instance? He killed those people, and had he not committed suicide, it would be him and not the gun standing trial for those deaths. If the goal is to go after the manufacturer of a killing machine, would it not make more sense to file suit against Ferri's parents for producing their very own walking, talking killing machine instead of an inanimate object that, just lying there, doesn't hurt anyone? Perhaps not, if not because the Ferri's pockets are not that deep, then because doing so does not advance the agenda.

"There is no upside for society with a product like that," Sposato continued, "I'm a gun owner and a lifelong Republican. But this has got nothing to do with that." With all due respect to Mr. Sposato, neither does his prior record of gun ownership or political affiliation. For that matter who is he, or the self absorbed California Legislature for that matter, to determine what is or is not an appropriate gun to own? No one is happy his wife died, but blaming the manufacturer of the weapon of choice instead of the madman who committed the crime is absurd and grossly misplaced. Besides, it is also often heard about a variety of products that ‘people don't need SUV's, fatty foods, cigarettes, etc.', much the same as ‘that type of weapon.' Says who? Those village idiots dispatched to represent ‘the people' in Sacramento?

Speaking of village idiots in Sacramento, this gets us to California Democratic State Senator Don Perata. Perata, from the San Francisco East Bay community of Alameda, wants to repeal the 1983 statute exempting the gun industry from liability and negligence lawsuits by way of SB 682, unveiling legislation the very next day after the State Supreme Court decision. Talk about convenient timing.

"We are not asking to have gun manufacturers held to lower standard, or a higher standard, but only the same standard (as other manufacturers)." Really? Given a liberal's propensity to lie to advance an agenda (the ends always justify the means) that statement, on its face, is probably not true.

For example, just look at how liberals handle gun statistics. One of the most cited statistics is one used by former President Clinton, citing Handgun Control Inc. on the Today show, that "13 children per day" are being killed by guns. According to an April 17, 2000 article written by Dave Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute, in National Review, "The assertions about ‘X children per day' are based on counting older teenagers, or even people in their early twenties, as ‘children' (author's emphasis). The claims are true only if you count a 19-year-old drug dealer who is shot by a competitor, or an 18-year-old armed robber who is shot by a policeman, as ‘a child killed by a gun.' As for actual children (14 years and under), the daily death rate is 2.6. For children ten and under, it's 0.4 per day—far lower than the number of children who are killed by automobiles, drowning, or many other causes." It is all a matter of what the definition of ‘children' is.

Given the liberal inclination to distort reality in an effort to create a worker's paradise, on the odd occurrence that Perata is being truthful in his assertion, the fact remains that it is specifically the gun manufacturers who are currently being targeted by those who want to effectively ban guns by bankrupting and shutting down those who manufacture them. To demonstrate, Perata ranted while holding one of the weapons, "If they had to face product liability, they'd be sued out of existence," which is exactly what Perata and Co. want. Bring on one of Democrat's largest contributors, the trial lawyers.

As much as it is a cliché, guns do not kill people. That is done by other people. Mr. Ferri was a disturbed individual who used a gun to kill eight other people. Had he walked into that office building and killed eight people with a baseball bat, a machete, or even if he had an alternative weapon such as a crossbow, these sorts of hysterics would simply not be around, for no one would even think to engage litigation against the producers of those products. Not even against the manufacturer of the crossbow, which although a relatively ancient weapon, is still very much one. No, in those instances it would actually be Ferri's fault. With the gun involved and only with the gun involved, apparently Ferri has no culpability. Even with the recent deaths of six people by stabbing in Sacramento, including three children, no one is calling for the banning of kitchen knives.

This, more than anything, is an effort to incrementally ban all private ownership of weapons. By blaming the gun for the crimes, liberals, almost too easily, are able to convince their dumbed down constituencies that to stop the crime the guns must go. Criminals, of course, never factor into situations such as these involving firearms. If they do, it is simply because they just need less time in jail and more counseling, more sensitivity training, more anger management classes, and more diversity training, to convince them not to do bad things. But those evil guns, they will never learn, and will just have to go.

That there are people out there, grasping at some socialist utopian vision, who want to ban guns is to be expected. But what is frightening goes beyond those whackos out there who want to do such things. Is that there are so many dupes out there ready to dump their right to possess a gun, even if they don't bother to exercise it, just to buy into the false notion of a gun free America being a safer America. This tradeoff between safety and freedom that has infested a large segment of the nation's belief system is a dangerous one.

To subjugate one's freedom in the naive hope of some sort of government guaranteed protection from harm is only the beginning of a cascading effect. That Californians seem content to allow their state government to do anything and everything in its power to bankrupt gun manufacturers shows not only a hatred for the product but hatred towards the freedom it symbolizes. Freedom, coupled with responsibility, the ‘burden' of which so many lazy Americans do not want. On the odd occurrence that they ever decide to change their mind, it will probably be too late. ESR

Gregory J. Hand is a political and social commentator whose weekly columns disclose his personal passion for conservative issues. His columns appear regularly at NewsCorridor, OpinioNet, and Ether Zone, and he is also a contributing writer with Enter Stage Right. He has a B.A. in Economics from Wofford College. You can view the complete catalog of all of his works on GregoryHand.com, and can reach him at ghand@gregoryhand.com.

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