Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Stepping up...

Last week the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence announced that it was filing a lawsuit on behalf of the family of a dead North Philadelphia child.

Anthony Oliver, Jr., 14, was accidentally shot by fourteen-year-old Quamere Durham, a friend, while his friend showed Anthony his gun. How his friend got the gun is unknown, but apparently the gun was purchased originally by someone who intended to illegally sell it on the street.

BCPGV announced that it was suing Lou's Jewelry & Pawn. Lou’s is the shop that originally sold the gun.

The crux of this issue is this:

Does a retailer, selling a legal product, in a legal fashion bear responsibility for the criminal misuse of said product?

The questions at issue are these:

1. Did Lou’s sell the firearm in a legal fashion?


2. Did the personnel at Lou’s have any reason to believe that the individual to whom they sold the gun would use it illegally or allow it to be used illegally?


3. Is it the responsibility of a retailer to examine and make judgements about the purchasing habits of a customer?


The laws concerning who can and cannot purchase firearms are quite strict and clear. What the Brady Campaign is trying to do is circumvent the legislature via the courts. The people of Pennsylvania have spoken loudly, saying, “We want no further restrictions on our right to keep and bear arms”. But the Brady people aren’t interested in the will of the people. They seek to coerce firearms dealers and manufacturers into self-imposed restrictions via the threat of potentially ruinous litigation.

Set aside the fact that firearms are involved. Consider what will happen if these suits are successful. The family of a victim of a drunk driver will be encouraged to sue the dealer who sold the car and/or the manufacturer of the vehicle…who, somehow, should have known that their product could be used by a drunk to kill people.

Oh, it’s not just cars either…knife manufacturers, baseball bat manufacturers, pool manufacturers…the list is almost endless…of people who “should have known” that their products could fall into the wrong hands or be misused. This is a recipe for economic meltdown, with only the trial bar winning.

The REAL issue here is why is there no sense of responsibility in the inner city? What is the responsibility of the parents of the child who accidentally shot Anthony? What is the responsibility of the person who purchased the gun initially and then sold it illegally?

What the Brady Campaign is saying is this: The residents of North Philadelphia are so depraved and animalistic that they cannot be trusted with ANYTHING that could be used to harm themselves or others. Therefore, we must take these things away from them. AND because we can’t just take them away from them without appearing racist, we must strip everyone of their right to self-defense...in the hope…HOPE, mind you, that fewer deaths will result.

This is policy as flawed as the logic behind it.

No. We must insist that the inner-city residents of Philadelphia raise themselves up to the same level of civilization as in the rest of the city. It is not acceptable from a civil rights point-of-view to expect everyone to behave like animals and make policy based on that assumption.

The Japanese made a CULTURAL decision to stop using firearms in the opening years of the 17th century. The same sort of decision is what needs to happen in our country.

The idea that we should restrict liberties for the "common good" has historically been a first step down the primrose path to totalitarianism.

I will not allow it on my watch.


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