On December 14, 2012 a 20-year old first murdered his mother, then shot his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School, quickly killing 20 young kids and 6 adults before taking his own life. He left behind a community so devastated that the school building had to be torn down.
Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court, that’s the court with all those pro-gun judges, declined to hear an appeal of a decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court to allow a lawsuit against the gun maker to go forward. After seven years, it appears that the parents of some of those victims will finally get their day in court.
The gun industry will also get its day in court. And when this day dawns, the gun industry will, for the very first time, have to prove that at least one of its products isn’t too dangerous to be manufactured and sold.
Way back in the good old days, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the gun industry made most of its products for hunting and sport. Companies like Winchester, Ithaca, Remington and Harrington & Richardson made millions of rifles and shotguns that could be found in just about every rural home. When those homes all disappeared, ditto the guns.
The gun industry, not wanting to go the way of the companies that made mixmasters or typewriters, moved quickly into new product lines based on the idea that guns make us safe and secure. The studies which claimed that guns protected their owners from crime had more holes than a slice of Dorman’s swiss cheese, but since when do we decide what to buy based on facts?
The bottom line is that the guns which started to sell more frequently beginning in the 1990’s weren’t designed for hunting or sport. They were designed to do one thing and one thing only – to kill or injure men, women and children, regardless of how or why those killings and injuries occurred.
The gun industry knew full well that pretending that a military rifle like an AR-15 was just another ‘sporting gun’ had no basis in truth. But so what? Nobody was going to sue gun manufacturers just because they came up with a clever slogan as a way to sell more guns.
At the same time the gun industry was avoiding the issue of product lethality, our friends in Gun-control Nation were doing exactly the same thing. Instead of holding gun makers accountable for the dangerousness of their products, they began promoting the idea that we can reduce gun violence by keeping guns out of the ‘wrong hands.’ But what happens when it turns out that most of the mass shooters commit their rampages with an perfectly legal guns?
The two sides in the gun debate avoid the issue of lethality because each side feels it incumbent upon themselves to pretend reverence for the cherished 2nd Amendment. The pro-gun side never misses an opportunity to ballyhoo (and usually mis-state) the Heller decision, even though prior to 2008 Americans were armed to the teeth without the benefit of any Constitutional protection at all. The anti-gun gang has no choice but to pretend an equally-strong belief in the 2nd-Amendment. After all, who among us would ever dare question the validity of Constitutional ‘rights,’ even if one of those ‘rights’ allows me to yank out my Glock and pop a cap on your head?
The Sandy Hook case cuts through all that nonsense and puts the issue of lethality right where it belongs; namely, whether the manufacturers of this particular commodity can pretend that this item is no more dangerous than any other product bought at the corner store.
The courts have long held that government has a ‘compelling interest’ to protect the community from harm. If someone knows anything more harmful than some jacked-up kid wandering around with an assault rifle and a bunch of 30-shot mags, I’d like to know what it is.