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Trading Lessons

Sandy Hook Solutions

Politics / US Politics Jan 20, 2013 - 02:38 PM GMT

By: Stephen_Merrill

Politics How do people ever begin to redeem the suffering of twenty tiny souls?  What can help diminish the horrible images Americans will long have of that terrible day the week before Christmas at Sandy Hook elementary school?

In our modern world the answer, as always, is curative legislation.  Legislation is the natural offspring of senseless tragedy wherever it might occur.



Make the manufacture, sale and possession of certain guns a crime.  It is not just the gun that needs banning though; it is the size of the bullet cartridge, too.  This is the largest solution type offered by Democrats, including President Obama.
The NRA chorus is quite the opposite. We need even more guns to deal with these criminals. The wilder gun advocates insist the government force the shopping malls, the schools and the street corners to become militarized by the “good guys”, a gun for every pot, crony capitalism for the merchants of death.  The belief is that only when everyone carries a serious weapon will gun violence be ended, surprisingly, as viewed by the people already armed to the teeth.

Quite frozen in place, the Republicans can offer only armed solutions, condolences with no reassurances it seems.  Everyone be prepared.  The President is allegedly coming to take your guns away.

So, the entire polarized gun debate looks at only unworkable solutions. 

The collective dictate so loved by Democrats, prohibition at some level, not only invades the privacy and security of gun owners.  It is an expensive method for the government to administer that always proves full of holes for the con-artists and criminals to exploit.  In a free nation more and more prohibition in more and more areas is not a go to solution.  The unintended consequences of such laws are typically dire for everyone.

On the Republican side of the debate offering the idea of arming unsuspecting school teachers with semi-automatic rifles so the Second Amendment can be saved has truly hit beyond the merely bizarre. 

Until a few years ago the Second Amendment’s meaning was unknown, a constitutional relic.  Yet, gun prohibition never came close to prospering generally in the US. 

The first US Supreme Court Justice to ever write at length about the Second Amendment, Justice Antonin Scalia five years ago, directly held the constitutional right to bear arms has considerable restraints, as most liberties in life do.

Advocating more and bigger guns to solve a gun problem is no more of a solution than offering more and more debt is to solving a debt problem.  It is the same way nations try to avoid war, through an arms race.  Such notions, even when viewed as self-defense, typically end in tears.

A meaningful solution toward reducing gun violence lies in the opposite direction from more government mandate.  It lies in personal responsibility and the freedom of choice that goes along with it.

There is a doctrine in the civil law of all fifty states known as product liability, a seller’s responsibility for damages caused by one’s product while it was being used for its intended purpose.  In the instance of a severe hazard such as chemical pollution the staunch standard applies, “strict liability” no matter the contributing factors to the later tragedy.  For instance, BP was 100% liable for the Gulf oil spill cleanup as a fact from day one. 

That severe doctrine seems a giant overstep for gun violence though.  No one could seriously suggest gun liability be open-ended, or pass along necessarily to the gun owner as a later seller, too.  There are way too many human and situational variables involved.  Different solutions would be used by the states for their different circumstances, fifty points of light, applying over time the remedies that seem to work in practice.

If gun manufacturers and retailers were made potentially liable for gun violence by their customer, there would be effective background checks like the government could never manage to achieve.  With the irresponsibility of it all vanished, the commerce in guns in the US would return to a more rational state for such a dangerous product.

This well-practiced, bottom-up, free market solution would also compensate victims for some of the deadly consequences of gun violence.  When GM or Toyota makes a car that wrongly kills someone, hollow words are not sufficient in the law, rightfully so.

With personal responsibility coming into place, many of the existing legal prohibitions on guns could easily be set aside, making gun ownership more accessible and private than it has been in our lifetimes: The BATF gone someday, the greatest victory of all for peaceful gun owners.

Do Obama and the Democrats have the political courage to seek a viable solution for gun violence?  Obviously not given Obama’s just announced wish list of legislation.  The US weapons industry need have little concern over Obama getting much in the way of their business model.  The Republicans, we already know, have been bought, lock, stock and barrel, by the gun lobby.

So, all we are seeing arise from the Sandy Hook slaughter, from both sides, is the usual pandering to the cameras.   The irresponsibility in US weapons commerce will continue despite the horrid tragedy, driven by the payoffs to members of both major parties in Washington, D.C.  The wall of special civil immunity for gun manufacturers and sellers purchased from Congress and the state legislatures is far too high to breach so far. 

Empty but tyrannical legislation like Obama’s is intended to compensate in the public’s perception for the lack of serious corrective action being taken by anyone.

When people just going about their lives, little children, are being slaughtered as a matter of routine it is a proper area for a legal solution, something quite necessary to remedy, something well within the bounds of legislative choice.  Protection from random violence is one of the three essential missions of government, first, to protect life, and then, to protect liberty and property.

The better legislative choice by far is movement toward the responsibility that goes with liberty. 

Stephen Merrill is a trial lawyer practicing in Anchorage, Alaska.  He was a founder of the Tidewater Virginia Libertarian Party in 2001, the most successful Libertarian Party affiliate in the nation.  He is now a founder of the Anchorage Tea Party, Occupy Anchorage and General Counsel and Secretary for the Alaska Libertarian Party.  He remains a longtime defender of the Bill of Rights. 

Mr. Merrill served in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps and as a Navy Reserve Intelligence Officer.

Mr. Merrill is the editor of the Alaska Freedom News, formerly the Hampton Roads Freedom News

© 2013 Copyright  Stephen Merrill - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


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