Monday, May 19, 2003

Ban Assault Papers Now

Today I wasn't sure what to blog about, so I took a look at the editorial page of today’s Daily Monopoly. Los Angeles Times True to form, the Monopoly did not disappoint. Not satisfied to see its big brother, the Paper With a Record fisked on the phony issue of "assault" weapons, the Monopoly saw fit to throw in its own two cents. Unfortunately, those two cents were counterfeit.

    An Energized NRA

    This month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) began a hard fight to get Congress to reauthorize the federal assault weapons ban she courageously championed 10 years ago.

Mike Roos and David Roberti - former legislators, both - took their share of well-deserved heat over California's 1989 "assault" rifle ban. By contrast, I'm not sure how much "courage" it took for a California Senator to champion a law that had no real impact on California. Much less, I suspect, than it took her to push for San Francisco's illegal handgun ban 20 years ago, even while packing heat herself.

    Unless Congress acts, the ban will expire in September and manufacturers will once again be able to legally sell these mass-murder machines.

    [Emphasis added.]

Asinine attempt at alliterations aside, "assault" rifles are rarely used in crimes of any kind, and some models have never been used in mass murders. No point letting facts get in the way of the opinion of a "news" paper.

    There is no legitimate use for the Uzis and AK-47s and the dozens of other assault guns that can spray 30 bullets in five seconds.

As the editorial staff surely knows, no bullet-spraying varieties of any stripe are covered by the 1994 "assault" rifle ban. Those are banned under an earlier law which, unfortunately, will never expire. If the manufacturers of "assault" rifles made such patently false statements about their product, their execs would end up in jail. Too bad the laws of consumer fraud do not apply to the "news" media.

    These guns are not for duck hunting; they're weapons of outlaw terror.

Someone needs to fill the outlaws in on this fact, since the outlaws themselves very rarely use these weapons. Here comes the bait:

    However, with many pals in the Republican-led Congress, the emboldened National Rifle Assn. aims not just to block new gun-control laws but to reverse old ones.

Who's reversing anything? The law was just barely passed in 1994, and probably would not have passed at all if not for the sunset clause. Allowing a bad law to expire by its own terms is hardly the same thing as reversing it – not that there’s anything wrong with reversing it!

Now, the switch:

    The bill that Feinstein and others introduced would make the assault gun ban permanent and close a loophole. The 1994 law bans the domestic manufacture of high-capacity ammunition clips but allows importation of such clips made abroad. Feinstein's bill would bar both.

So much for the argument that all they're trying to do is keep the bill alive. This is a bill to expand the 1994 law, not merely to "extend" it.

    Even though President Bush says he backs the toughened ban and the public and police officers steadfastly support it, the NRA slams it as "the most sweeping gun ban ever." So, no surprise, Rep. Tom Delay (R-Texas) — faithful NRA supporter and grateful recipient of its campaign largess — has vowed to see that the ban expires.

What we see her is the Pauline Kael Syndrome (PKS): I don't know a single person who opposes the Ugly Gun Ban, therefore, the public at large must support that ban. If the American people generally felt the same way about gun control as newspaper editors did, there would have been no Republican sweep in 1994. Even Bill Clinton, the most extremely anti-gun President ever, acknowledges as much. Only journalists writing for near-monopoly papers don't.

    That's not all. The NRA is pushing hard to make gun manufacturers immune from civil lawsuits by crime victims. A bill that cleared the House last month would exempt firearms makers and retail dealers from liability.

Referring to "a bill" rather than its name and/or number is a perniciuos practice which, unfortunately, is not limited to the Monopoly. It serves no real purpose, except to make fact-checking more difficult. The bill in question appears to be H.R. 1036, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

    No other industry has such immunity.

With the possible exception of tobacco and Oreo manufacturers, no other industry needs such immunity. When was the last time you heard someone of suing an SUV manufacturer for selling a non-defective SUV to a non-defective dealer, who in turn sold the non-defective SUV to a not-so-non-defective individual?

    Not automakers that have paid millions to victims after SUVs flipped over or defective tires burst. Or crib makers whose badly spaced bars choked babies to death.

Nor would gun manufacturers, under the proposed bill. If your gun explodes and injures you, you can sue the manufacturer or the dealer over that product defect just like any other. The suits targeted by this bill are the ones intended to re-fight legislative battles in the courtroom, alleging product "defects" where a legal product did exactly what it was supposed to do.

    Families of the Washington-area sniper victims have sued Bushmaster Firearms, which made the assault rifle the two alleged shooters used, and the Bull's Eye Shooter Supply store in Tacoma, Wash., which sold the gun.

First of all, Malvo and Mohammed’s Bushmaster was not an "assault" rifle, else they would not have been able to purchase it when they did. Second, why should Bushmaster Firearms be sued for the (alleged) misdeeds of the gun shop? If anyone was negligent in selling the gun to Mr. Mohammed, it was Bull's Eye, not Bushmaster.

    Because federal law forbade Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad to buy a rifle, the suits claim that Bull's Eye was negligent in selling one to them. They also claim that Bushmaster supplied Bull's Eye despite knowing that the store had repeatedly violated federal firearms records laws. The NRA-backed proposal would bar such lawsuits, no matter the extent of negligence.

That is a lie, of the kind which explains why the Monopoly declined to mention the bill by name or provide any hints as to where one might find it. Section 4(5)(A)(ii) of the Act expressly exempts "an action brought against a seller for ... negligence per se." Negligence per se is lawyer-ese for a negligence action based on a violation of a law.

    The NRA is energized now, pushing its Charlton Heston T-shirts and even baby bibs picturing preschool blocks with the letters NRA. Senators who defy the group are sure to face reelection revenge.

Payback Democracy's a bitch, huh?

    These lawmakers need to hear from the quiet majority who worry about their families' safety and this nation's burgeoning supply of guns.

The Monopoly’s L.A. Times's acute case of PKS is acting up again. These editors need to hear from the usually-silent, overwhelming majority of Americans who think that the Second and Tenth Amendments mean what they say.

UPDATE: Instapundit reports that CNN has admitted to running similar lies to those advanced in yesterday's L.A. Times, even while inexplicably "sticking by" John Zarrella, the hack bureau chief who intentionally faked that story.

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