Gun Ruling Sends Shockwaves
by Erich Pratt
GOA Communications Director
(May 2, 2001) -- The inhabitants of Bradyville are up in arms these days.
Bradyville is the land of make-believe, where guns are thought to have
magical powers. They are considered so evil that children have even been
punished for waving a thumb and finger in the air -- forming the shape of a gun
-- and saying "bang."
Yes, the inhabitants of Bradyville don't want guns in their town. And they
have crafted all kinds of constitutional and legal theories to get them out of
your town, too.
Well, New York's top court handed down a verdict on April 26 that has sent
shockwaves rippling throughout the land. The court ruled that gun makers can't
be held liable when a bad guy uses one of their guns to kill someone.
That should be a no-brainer. After all, we don't hold General Motors liable
when a wacko uses a Cadillac to intentionally run over children at a day-care
A situation like that actually happened in California two years ago. To date,
no one in the media or in Congress has called upon the courts to stick it to the
car industry. Yet, that is exactly what gun grabbers in Bradyville are trying to
do to gun makers.
The recent ruling out of New York, however, comes as a huge blow. Sarah
Brady's foundation in the nation's capitol -- which helped bring the lawsuit --
declared the verdict a "setback."
Oh, but this was more than just a setback. The inhabitants of Bradyville have
spent countless hours and untold dollars in courtrooms all across the nation to
make this legal argument stick.
Nevertheless, they have suffered an almost complete string of losses. They
are losing the suits that private individuals are bringing against gun
manufacturers. They are losing the taxpayer-funded suits that 31 city and county
governments have launched.
They have lost in states which are somewhat conservative -- like Florida. And
they have now lost in liberal courts like those in New York state.
So you have to wonder: if an extremely liberal New York court will not
swallow the legal arguments coming from gun haters, then why should anyone else?
The judges from the Empire State warned that we should be cautious in
imposing "novel" theories of law.
Still, the lawyers from Bradyville march on, spending thousands -- perhaps
millions -- of dollars pursuing untried, novel theories. Why?
Quite simply, because they are not worried about losing in court.
What they really want is to financially cripple the dozens upon dozens of
American businessmen who make a living selling a constitutionally protected
Edward Rendell lives in Bradyville. As the former mayor of Philadelphia and a
previous head of the Democratic National Committee, he speaks for many of
"The impact of so many cities filing suit all at once would be
monumental for gun manufacturers," Rendell said. "They don't have the
deep pockets of the tobacco industry, and it could bring them to the negotiating
table a lot sooner."
You see, that's what they really want in Bradyville. They want to put a gun
to the head of the gun makers, so to speak, and threaten them with extinction if
they don't agree to negotiate... if they don't agree to preemptively swallow a
vast gun control agenda.
Thus, their "novel" theory doesn't have to win in court. It only
needs to bully the gun makers into submission.
So here's the $10 million question: if gun grabbers are willing to use
"novel" legal theories to sink the American gun industry, what makes
us think they aren't using "novel" theories when it comes to attacking
the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms?
What makes us think they don't skew the truth in order to sell us on gun
bans, licensing and registration?
In Bradyville, they tell us the Constitution only protects firearms for those
in the militia. They tell us guns are only for the National Guard. You and I
don't have a constitutional right to keep arms for protection, they say.
But that's not what the Founding Fathers believed. Nor is it what a majority
of the courts have stated over our more than 200-year history.
For example, James Madison -- known as the Father of the Constitution -- said
in Federalist Paper 46 that
the Constitution preserves "the advantage of being armed, which the
Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation... [where] the
governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."
And more recently, the U.S. Supreme Court stated (in 1990) that the
"people" mentioned in the Second Amendment are the same
"people" mentioned elsewhere in the Bill of Rights.
This means that the right of the "people" to keep and bear arms is
a freedom that belongs not just to a select group of government-appointed
bureaucrats, but to all Americans.
Well, this need not strike fear into the hearts of Bradyville denizens. Guns
are used more often to save lives than to take lives. And besides, guns really
don't have magical powers. They are simply a tool, and on their own, can't walk
down the street and shoot someone.
Erich Pratt is the Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America, a
national gun lobby with over 300,000 members located at 8001 Forbes Place,
Springfield, VA 22151 and at http://www.gunowners.org
on the web.