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On gun legislation, these Democrats are not straight shooters

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    On gun legislation, these Democrats are not straight shooters

    William A. Levinson: On gun legislation, these Democrats are not straight shooters

    First Posted: 10:28 am - April 28th, 2016
    William A. Levinson - Guest columnist

    A recent Associated Press article states that U.S. Senate contender Katie McGinty advocates repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was enacted specifically to protect gun manufacturers from frivolous and malicious lawsuits.
    Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, also support junk lawsuits similar to the one the Brady Campaign orchestrated against Lucky Gunner and other online ammunition vendors. Federal judge Richard Matsch not only dismissed the suit, he ordered Brady to pay the defendants more than $200,000 in legal fees.
    Consider the quality engineering concept of “fitness for use” – a basic quality criterion for any product. Rat poison that did not kill mammals would, for example, be entirely unfit for its intended purpose as a rodenticide. The fact that former Wilkes-Barre resident Joann Curley used it to murder her husband in 1991 does not make the manufacturer, or indeed anybody but Joann Curley, liable for the misuse.
    A firearm has similarly four entirely legal and socially acceptable purposes. They are to (1) put holes in paper targets, (2) put an animal into the shooter’s stomach, (3) keep the shooter out of an animal’s stomach, or (4) stop one or more violent humans. A firearm that could not inflict instantaneously lethal damage would be grossly unfit for any of these purposes except the first. The fact that guns can kill is therefore no more alarming than the fact that a hammer can drive nails. A lawsuit against Sears for a criminal’s misuse of a Craftsman hammer in an assault would not even make it into the courtroom, nor would an attempt to sue General Motors if an uninsured drunken driver ran somebody over with a Chevy.
    Restrictions on magazine sizes, or at least the number of rounds in the magazine, are reasonable for hunting because nobody will starve to death in our modern society if he or she misses a deer. When New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, says nobody needs 10 bullets to kill a deer, he is right because a hunter who can’t turn the deer into venison with one bullet shouldn’t take the shot. If attorney Cuomo is even marginally qualified to practice law, however, he knows there is no constitutional right to hunt. The Second Amendment acknowledges only the basic right of self-protection against violent and malicious humans. Attorney Cuomo cannot plead ignorance of the Constitution, so he is therefore dishonest.
    A firearm with an inadequate magazine capacity, such as the seven-round limit mandated by New York’s so-called SAFE Act, can easily get its owner killed by a berserk, drug-crazed assailant who keeps coming despite multiple hits, or by multiple attackers. One home invasion victim survived only because her wounded assailant did not realize that she had fired her handgun empty while defending herself and her children. Police instructor Massad Ayoob describes in his book how a violent felon shot a police officer who then “… lay helpless as she watched a neighbor empty a .22 rifle into the killer; the neighbor then had to club the madman down with the empty rifle, again and again, before he succumbed.”
    Countless similar examples are available. Advocates of this legislation, therefore, want authority without accountability for any resulting deaths, rapes or serious injuries, and the same goes for peddlers of so-called “smart guns” that will fire only for authorized personnel.
    Criminals often murder police officers with the officers’ own sidearms. If “smart guns” were not subject to multiple failure causes (e.g. dead battery, identification device not in range of the firearm, electronic jamming or hacking), police departments would be first in line to get them. The same goes for prisons that could otherwise have issued them to corrections officers such as Eric Williams to use on (alleged until proven guilty) assailants like Jessie Con-Ui. The fact that none have done so is particularly telling.
    Gun control therefore should indeed be a front-and-center issue in the upcoming election, although not in a way that McGinty, Clinton or Cartwright will like.

    William A. Levinson, of Wilkes-Barre, is the author of “Henry Ford’s Lean Vision: Enduring Principles from the First Ford Motor Plant” and other books on quality, management and industrial productivity.