NYT OP/ED’s on Gun Manufacturer Responsibility—Insurance by Other Means

This is hot stuff!!  A very heartening reminder that the drive to establish a responsible gun policy in our country is here to the finish.

A pair of important OP/ED’s to hold gun manufacturers responsible for the injuries they create has been published in the New York Times.  The first “Make Gun Companies Pay Blood Money” by Lucinda M. Finley and John G. Culhane advocates a compensation fund to pay victims of gun violence financed by a tax on gun manufacturers or importers.  The second “Let Shooting Victims Sue” by Robert M. Morgenthau calls for rolling back the special laws that protect gun manufacturers and others in the gun trade from liability for the damage their wares create.

Make Gun Companies Pay Blood Money

Finley and Culhane’s compensation fund would be similar to no-fault insurance in the benefits it would provide for victims.  They envision:

For every gun sold, those who manufacture or import it should pay a tax. The money should then be used to create a compensation fund for innocent victims of gun violence.

This proposal is based on a fundamentally conservative principle — that those who cause injury should be made to “internalize” the cost of their activity by paying for it.

This is a very straight forward proposal.  They make the comparison to the existing system for protecting people injured by vaccines with a tax on the manufacturers.  That system has worked for years to facilitate vaccine manufacture and use, to compensate those injured, and to give greater confidence to the public.

As a form of insurance, it would accomplish one of the main goals advocated by this blog in compensating victims.  Because it is attached to neither the specific guns or the specific gun owners, it can avoid the major problem of covering guns in the hands of persons outside the law–who could not be compelled to purchase insurance.  It would not, however, contribute greatly to the second goal advocated by this blog—encouraging gun owners and users to have practices which reduce the level of injuries.  That’s were the second plan meshes perfectly.

Let Shooting Victims Sue

Robert Morgenthau’s proposal is to roll back the 2005 federal law the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act which protects arms manufacturers and sellers from almost all responsibility for their products after they are sold.  He states:

This kind of legislation encourages arms dealers to turn a blind eye to the lethal consequences of what they peddle, and rewards their breathtaking irresponsibility.

An executive at one top gun company admitted that it didn’t try to learn whether the dealers who sold its firearms were involved in the black market. “I don’t even know what a gun trafficker is,” he said in a court deposition reviewed by The New York Times.

Morgenthau goes on to describe the out of control gun violence that we currently have in this country.  He points out the deprivation of the rights of states to protect their citizens and states “a basic principle of law that imposes liability when someone’s unreasonable act results in foreseeable harm to someone else.”  He also gives historical parallels with the tobacco and motor vehicle industries being brought from a condition of causing many deaths to a much greater safety today.

Insurance by Another Means

This blog exists to advocate insurance to compensate shooting victims, encourage safe practices and not be an excessive burden on gun owners.  These proposals if both were implemented would accomplish the greater part of that mission.

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