Plan to undercut 2nd Amendment disguised as product liability

Many people are honest about their opposition to the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. They support repealing the amendment or reconstruing it so the right is enjoyed only by members of the militia, the National Guard. Others urge outlawing semi-automatic guns, "semi-automatic" sounding scary but actually defining nearly every modern gun, guns that reload themselves. That would leave only shotguns and antique single-shot rifles and pistols available for general use. The objective of these people is forthright: to disarm everyone but the government.

Connecticut's U.S. senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, are not among the honest opponents of the right to bear arms. Instead they again have introduced legislation in Congress to allow gun manufacturers to be sued for the criminal use of their products, lawsuits now prohibited by the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

Since there will always be both legal use and criminal use of guns, as there will always be legal and criminal use of many other things, subjecting gun manufacturers to financial damages for criminal use of their products will let any jury overcome by the emotion of a gun fatality or injury to bankrupt the manufacturer of the gun involved and thereby eventually stop all legal gun production in the country.

That is the objective of the Blumenthal-Murphy legislation, which the senators have titled the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act. A better title might be the Repeal the Second Amendment Without Taking the Trouble to Pass Another Constitutional Amendment Act.

"All we are doing is giving victims of gun violence their day in court," Blumenthal says disingenuously. No, all the senators are doing is turning an original constitutional right into product liability.

Yes, the Second Amendment, a principle of liberty and limited government from the country's revolutionary and formative days, has combined with the country's recent drug and mental illness problems to produce a terrible problem of gun violence. But even stopping gun production might not reduce the problem much. For there are more guns in civilian possession in the United States than there are people, most guns are of simple design and reliable enough manufacture that they don't wear out, and many if not most gun owners are unlikely to comply with any attempt at confiscation.

It's hard to see how approaching the problem as dishonestly as Connecticut's senators do will persuade anyone. For even people who favor measures like mandatory background checks for gun buyers might recognize the Second Amendment's virtues.

After all, 45 years ago as President Richard Nixon was facing impeachment, his defense secretary, James Schlesinger, issued instructions to U.S. military commanders that they were not to obey any orders coming from outside normal channels. That is, the president was on the verge of losing his mind and his defense secretary considered him capable of attempting a military coup to stay in power.

And a few months ago President Trump, who sometimes seems as if he already has lost his mind, mused about becoming president for life like his friend the premier of communist China. Presidency for life is easier there because private ownership of firearms is prohibited.

So at least for another year and a half, if guns are outlawed or subjected to product liability as Connecticut's senators propose, outlaws will not be the only ones to have guns. The crackpot-in-chief will have them too.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

 

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