Thursday, May 22, 2003

Eugene Volokh, Closet Gun Control Supporter?

I've blogged a lot about gun control in the recent past, and have also blogged about the bias of L.A.'s premire legal newspaper, the Los Angeles Daily Urinal Journal [whose articles frequently overlap with those of its sister publication, the San Francisco Daily Journal], in the more distant past. This entry combines the two themes; the only thing missing was for Jennifer Reisch and/or her attorney, The Insufferable Laura Stevens, to get involved in the debate. The article at issue ran in the May 9, 2003 edition of the Daily Journal, and concerned the case of Maxfield v. Bryco Arms, a politically motivated anti-gun lawsuit brought on behalf of Brandon Maxfield, a paraplegic teenager, against Bryco Arms, a Costa Mesa firearms manufacturer.

Like most of the other tort lawsuits brought against firearms manufacturers, Maxfield concerned not a genuine manufacturing defect, but a creative theory alleging a design defect based on but-for reasoning: if the gun had had a chamber indicator and been designed to allow a person to unload it without disengaging the safety, the idiot babysitter charged with caring for Maxfield, William Moreford, might not have shot Maxfield. Unlike the lion's share of these cases, however, Maxfield actually prevailed, and got hit with a $51 million verdict.

Now we get to the part where the Daily Journal utterly blows it: quoting Eugene Volokh. Here is everthing the Daily Journal had to say about Professor Volokh (the middle paragraph does not relate to Prof. Volokh but has been left in to avoid the appearance of my having yanked anything out of context):

    Professor Eugene Volokh, who teaches a firearms regulation seminar at the UCLA School of Law, said [H.R. 1036] would allow general product liabiltiy claims but could disallow a case with the specifics of Maxwell because the shooter could have been charged with criminal negligence.

    No industry has ever tried to get such sweeping immunity," said [attorney Daniel] Vice, whose organization [the Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, f/k/a Coalition to Prevent Handgun Violence f/k/a National Coalition to Ban Handguns] opposes the legislation.

    The bill as written provides several exceptions and would expressly allow state and federal firearms regulations to take precedence, Volokh said. He generally supports statutory, rather than judicial, firearms control, he added. "The law is jsut clearer and fairer."

    [Emphasis added.]

Suppose you knew nothing about Professor Volokh's extensive research on gun control. Going on nothing except what you just read from the Daily Journal, what would you assume about his general views on gun control?

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