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Colorado Proposes Holding Gun Manufacturers Liable For Gun Violence

Colorado Proposes Holding Gun Manufacturers Liable For Gun Violence

If Congress can’t get anything done on gun safety reform, several states seem ready, including Colorado where, under a bill introduced by Democrats, owners and makers of assault-style weapons would face civil liability for damages caused by their weapons.

It’s a bold proposal coming from a state with both a history of tragic gun violence and stubborn libertarian-tendencies that typically buck weapons regulation. But this measure, if it passes, would put Colorado at the front of the national conversation about how best to deal with a public health crisis of gun violence.

The law would hold owners, manufacturers and distributors of firearms strictly liable for any harm that comes from their weapons. That means those owners, manufacturers and distributors would be on the hook for money damages no matter the circumstances. The idea behind strict liability law is that there are some products, or activities, that are just simply impossible to make safe–they are, by their very nature, so inherently dangerous that the person making the product or engaging in the activity bears all the risk associated with injury from use. That’s opposed to a negligence standard where the law will only find someone liable if, generally speaking, they failed to act in a reasonable manner under the given circumstances.

Gun manufacturers have successfully shielded themselves from any civil liability related to the use of their weapons thanks to laws lobbied by the NRA that explicitly prevent victims of gun violence from suing manufacturers, importers and dealers. If passed, the Colorado law would lift that shield and put the state at odds with a 2005 federal law protecting gun manufacturers from being held liable for crimes committed with their products. That conflict would likely prompt a legal challenge giving the Supreme Court an opportunity to weigh in.

While bold the measure doesn’t cover all firearms. Hanguns, bolt-action rifles and shotguns are exempt under the proposal.

That a proposal like this has legs in a state like Colorado shows how far the debate has lurched since the NRA’s completely unhinged response to Sandy Hook, and it shows the difference an election cycle can make. This is the bluest the state of Colorado has been with Democrats controlling both chambers of the legislature and the governorship.  Sensible gun safety measures like insurance and civil liability exposure– all private, market-driven regulations, certainly falls more into line with Colorado’s anti-government traditions than a measure that would ban assault rifles outright. With the state also leading the way in the fight against marijuana prohibition, this weapons reform push speaks to the emerging progressive base in the state. And it’s a voice Washington would be smart to start listening to.

 

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Photo from gideon tsang via flickr.

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9:57AM PDT on Jul 20, 2014

Why must all decent non-violent people fight against "gun control"? Why is the right to keep and bear arms truly a fundamental individual right? You can find the answers in this new book.

People frequently ask why we are so dedicated to our cause? This book answers that question by collecting the key facts and arguments in one place.

People have asked us to present the whole JPFO argument in one place. We have done it. Available now in an easy-reading format and a handy size, the new book is entitled Death by Gun Control: The Human Cost of Victim Disarmament.

The message is simple: Disarmed people are neither free nor safe - they become the criminals' prey and the tyrants' playthings. When the civilians are defenseless and their government goes bad, however, thousands and millions of innocents die.

Professor R.J. Rummel, author of the monumental book Death by Government, said: "Concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth." For power to concentrate and become dangerous, the citizens must be disarmed.

What disarms the citizens? The idea of "gun control." It's the idea that only the government has the right to possess firearms, and that citizens have no unalienable right to use force to defend against aggression.

Death by Gun Control carefully examines the "gun control" idea: its meaning, its purposes, its effects. It comes in many forms, but in every form it enables the evildoers and works against righteous defense.

4:19PM PST on Mar 8, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

7:17AM PST on Feb 28, 2013

Sarah,
You have given the best analogy of this yet! You hit the nail on the head.

5:22AM PST on Feb 28, 2013

This is ridiculous. It's like holding the match manufacturers responsible for arson. Oops, I hope I didn't just give them more stupid ideas.

3:05PM PST on Feb 26, 2013

"You can't earn credits for leaving a comment because you've already earned the daily maximum." Hey stupid, surprised I cracked your clipboard? Know what else I found on there? Who the says I'm in this just for the points? Go back to collecting bribes for allowing commercial messages in these columns.

This is not the first attempt at something similar, and it is self defeating. Weapons are merely smuggled into areas where people no longer honor or believe the law. This is the same principle utilized by our government to supply the drug cartels in Mexico with weapons at our expense.

4:57PM PST on Feb 19, 2013

Thanks

4:38PM PST on Feb 19, 2013

We have gone so far overboard on warning labels and placing the liability on others when we don't have enough common sense in America to see the obvious that we are the laughing stock of European comedians' jokes because we have become such a "nanny" country. Europeans take responsibility for their own actions, don't need unnecessary warning signs on everything to try to prevent frivolous liability lawsuits, and don't try to blame everyone else for their own careless actions. This proposed bill is a prime example of this.

10:53AM PST on Feb 19, 2013

Then we should hold food companies accountable to our beling fat, car companies for our driving and the list goes on. I own a gun. And most Americans support gun ownership. this is once again the minority pushing it's will on the majority. I do NOT support any laws that do this. More people dies of erotic asphyxiation then of guns. The nuts that shoot people will simply find another method to kill large groups. The goal should be to arm more people not disarm them. The movie shooter passed up 2 theaters before he went into this theater that was marked as a gun free zone. Is that not significant? He knew he would be killed right away if others had guns. If you don't want to own a gun then don't but when a sexual predator breaks into your home and sodomizes your child don't expect me to rescue you.

4:16PM PST on Feb 17, 2013

Let's hope that a majority of our members of Congress are intelligent enough to realize that if Senator Feinstein's proposed bill exempts federal employees, because they need "assault weapons" and large capacity magazines for protection, that all law abiding gun owners should be made exempt also, because their lives and the lives of their families should be equally as precious. Even the FBI considers many of the guns listed as "prohibited" in Senator Feinstein's bill as ideal for home protection. I was told by numerous law enforcement officials at local, county and state levels to purchase an AR15 with collapsible stock and a 30 round magazine for home protection, since most home invasions involve 2 or more intruders. I live in a rural state with a minimum of 30 minute police response time. I would never shoot anyone, but an AR15 definitely will scare off intruders without harming anyone. They are only semi-automatic weapons and it is ideal for protecting my rescue animals from predators, target shooting and home protection. I was trusted to carry a fully loaded M16 machine gun with multiple 30 round magazines in public in the US during the Vietnam war, why am I not trusted to own a semi-automatic AR15 now?

3:37PM PST on Feb 17, 2013

End:
It sure doesn’t seem as if the insurance company (Lloyds) deems legitimate firearms owners a ‘high risk’….does it?

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