Today's editorial pages are full of the varying ways anyone can kill someone else, be it behind the wheel of a smartphone (even Cars are somehow becoming one with them) to Guns. When does it stop? The ultimate drive by might be texting someone while committing a drive by shooting - talk about win-win!
Why is it that MADD, a once useful activist group, now frankly a group of temperance individuals have no interest in anything but ensuring that the fake science and other constitutional infringements secure the roads safe from the supposed scourge of drunken maniacs behind the wheel of a car? Why do they have no interested in distracted drivers or gun safety legislation.? I mean they are Mother's right? And they care about kids right? Still mad I assume? Well no but that is not the point. When anyone has to look deeper into any acronym group or non profit taking monies directly from the same government they are lobbying to - conflict of interest and facts - get lost in the process.
The same goes to the NRA. They are not just a government lobbyist giving money to government they actually get funds from it as well. As do the manufacturers of guns in the form of tax credits. It is a viscous circle of hypocrisy and corruption regardless of their intent or purpose.
Now of course enabling citizens the right to sue a corporate person hood is under the gun (pun intended) as the Supreme Court is very biased towards the individual called Corporate X and their recent American Express ruling validates this. And we have states, such as Texas, whose idea of Tort Reform, is to make it impossible to file individual suits let alone class actions. Nothing says business friendly than a State who has no regulations and then when a business blows up destroying a town the audacity to say we won't be adding any anytime soon and then ask FEMA for money, but hey Texans do it bigger.
And of course when you read the articles they mention big Tobacco and of course anyone recalls a former Pres/VP Candidate who made his money suing the same and then decided that good behavior and legality was not something he needed to be a part of furthers the hypocrisy. But in reality we need to have the rights to speak out and court is the one way it can get heard. Not fairly nor equally but it is there.
I will let you read the below and make your own conclusions. Public Safety is also a public health crisis and victims of all assaults - regardless of the type - deserve the right to be heard and to be MAD they are not.
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Published: June 23, 2013
As Americans have become more aware of the dangers of using cellphones while driving, the makers of cars and mobile devices have increasingly sold hands-free and speech-recognition technologies as safer alternatives. But a new report presents compelling evidence that drivers who use such tools are as distracted as people who hold their phone to their ear. Even when drivers keep both hands on the wheel, the report says, a lot of mental energy is required to hold two-way conversations or talk coherently into speech-recognition devices.
The report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety studied how distracted drivers became while performing various tasks: listening to the radio, talking to a passenger, using a hand-held phone, using a hands-free phone and sending messages with a speech-to-text system. The authors measured distraction by observing how long it took drivers to brake when the car ahead did; the distance they kept between their car and the one ahead; and whether they looked at hazards, like crosswalks.
On a scale of one to five, where one represented no distraction, drivers who used the speech-to-text system registered 3.06. People who talked on a hand-held cellphone landed at 2.45, and drivers with a hands-free phone scored 2.27. Drivers listening to the radio scored just 1.21.
These results suggest that states should ban the non emergency use of all communications devices by drivers, as has been recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board. In 2011, 3,331 people died in accidents involving a distracted driver, which was 10 percent of all traffic fatalities, up from 3,267 deaths in 2010.
Unfortunately, these numbers do not seem to alarm car makers. A spokeswoman for the auto industry told The Times that “people want to be connected in their car just as they are in their home or wherever they may be.” They may, however, place far greater value on getting to their destination without killing themselves or anyone else.
Make Gun Companies Pay Blood Money
By JOHN G. CULHANE
Published: June 23, 2013
GUN manufacturers have gone to great lengths to avoid any moral responsibility or legal accountability for the social costs of gun violence — the deaths and injuries of innocent victims, families torn apart, public resources spent on gun-related crime and medical expenses incurred.
But there is a simple and direct way to make them accountable for the harm their products cause. For every gun sold, those who manufacture or import it should pay a tax. The money should then be used to create a compensation fund for innocent victims of gun violence.
This proposal is based on a fundamentally conservative principle — that those who cause injury should be made to “internalize” the cost of their activity by paying for it. Now, gun manufacturers and sellers are mostly protected from lawsuits by federal law.
As it happens, a model for this approach already exists. Under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, those injured by vaccines are eligible for compensation from a fund financed by an excise tax on the sale of every dose of vaccine. In creating this no-fault system in the 1980s, Congress sought to provide care for those injured by vaccines while protecting manufacturers from undue litigation.
Vaccines are essential for public health but inevitably cause harm to a small number of people. Since all of us benefit from a vaccinated population, the compensation program spreads the costs when things go wrong to everyone who received a vaccination, rather than leaving the injured and their families to bear the cost. It also avoids the time, expense and inefficiencies of litigation, and dispenses with the need to prove fault. The compensation fund thus ensures that vaccine manufacturers will remain in the market rather than being forced out by the prospect of huge legal judgments against them.
Guns, of course, are not essential for public health. But Congress has made painfully clear that it values the largely unfettered ownership of guns and their manufacture — despite the social costs of the violence that results when guns work as designed. For that reason, it makes sense to tax gun manufacturers directly. The result would be that those who derive a benefit from guns — for hunting, target practice, self-defense or simply for collecting — would shoulder some of the social costs of their choice as manufacturers pass along the cost of the tax to them.
Such a tax might also exert at least some economic pressure on manufacturers to market especially lethal guns less aggressively, or to implement safer gun technologies, like “smart guns” that could be used only by the registered owner. Right now, they have no such incentive — they’re immune from most lawsuits, and guns are expressly exempt from regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is supposed to protect the public from unreasonable risks from consumer products. (Thus, the commission can ban lawn darts or cork guns, but not real firearms.)
Since safer guns would mean fewer compensable injuries or deaths, the tax should be adjustable, rising when injuries and deaths increase, and falling when they decrease. The tax rate could also be adjusted to reflect the relative lethality of guns. Those guns that are most often used to kill or maim the largest number of people could be taxed at a higher rate, while guns used primarily for hunting or sport that are much less often involved in fatalities or injuries would be taxed at a lower rate.
Gun makers know that their products are lethal, and sometimes used illegally. They know that some of their dealers’ sales practices contribute to guns’ falling into criminal hands. They know that each year a significant number of innocent people will be killed or maimed by the use of guns. But quite often, the shooters themselves cannot be held fully or even partially accountable, financially, because they are unknown, destitute or dead.
A serious discussion will be required about the amount of compensation, and whether victims’ family members would also be entitled to recover from the fund. These important conversations about eligibility and amounts are common to all compensation funds. Just as these questions have been and will be tackled for these other funds, they can be thoughtfully and carefully worked out for this one.
Some of the victims of recent mass shootings — including the massacres at Aurora, Colo., Newtown, Conn., and Virginia Tech, as well as those who survived the 9/11 attack — have recently banded together to ask Congress to enact a National Compassion Fund, to make sure that charitable donations get to their victims rather than being swallowed up in administrative costs.
That’s a good idea, but it is not enough. Gun manufacturers should pony up. A national tax on the sale of guns is the way to do that.
Let Shooting Victims Sue
By ROBERT M. MORGENTHAU
Published: June 23, 2013
A BASIC function of law in a civilized society is to allocate the costs of harm to those who caused it. In the case of a gang shooting or terrorist attack, penalties are imposed on the gang member or terrorist. But what of the person who sold them their weapons?
In 2004, relatives of eight people shot in the Washington-area sniper attacks received $2.5 million dollars from the maker and seller of the rifle used in those shootings. That was a matter of simple justice. But the gun lobby had no use for that kind of justice. They went to work and, the next year, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, severely reducing the legal liability of gun manufacturers, distributors and dealers for reckless acts that send guns to the black market. The National Rifle Association called it “the most significant piece of pro-gun legislation in 20 years.”
This kind of legislation encourages arms dealers to turn a blind eye to the lethal consequences of what they peddle, and rewards their breathtaking irresponsibility.
An executive at one top gun company admitted that it didn’t try to learn whether the dealers who sold its firearms were involved in the black market. “I don’t even know what a gun trafficker is,” he said in a court deposition reviewed by The New York Times. < The 2005 law is just one example of Congressional actions that have reduced gun-industry liability and gutted consumer protections. The result of all this legislation, as Jonathan E. Lowy, director of the legal action project at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, has noted, is that a defective BB gun can be recalled, but not a real gun with a similar defect. What is at stake? According to the most recent data, between 30 and 40 percent of gun acquisitions take place without any background check. Many of these transactions happen online, at gun shows and in private homes. Each of those guns represents a potential danger to the public. Following the elementary-school massacre in Newtown, Conn., in December, there was overwhelming support to end unsupervised gun sales. The N.R.A. fought back and, as everyone knows, won.
And while gun violence touches every segment of society, it does not do so uniformly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans are 70 percent more likely to be killed by gun violence than are whites — though black-on-black violence rarely makes headlines. One wonders whether our nation’s legislators would be equally comfortable excluding the gun lobby from liability if more of them had to raise their children on the South Side of Chicago or in other inner-city neighborhoods plagued by gun violence.
There is a basic principle of law that imposes liability when someone’s unreasonable act results in foreseeable harm to someone else. It is a wise and ancient rule, as fundamental as the principle that my right to swing my fist stops somewhere short of your nose.
In a 1999 case, Jack B. Weinstein, a federal judge in Manhattan, wisely articulated that principle as it should apply to handgun makers. “The duty of manufacturers of a uniquely hazardous product,” he wrote, is to “take reasonable steps” that would “reduce the possibility” that firearms would “fall into the hands of those likely to misuse them.” That basic principle was gutted when Congress caved to the gun lobby and passed the 2005 immunity law.
The 2005 law also deprived New York and other states of their right to protect, or at least compensate, their citizenry by imposing civil liability on those manufacturers and dealers who failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the abuse and illegal trafficking of their weapons.
While the nation continues to debate the issue of background checks — a cause to which Gabrielle Giffords, the former representative from Arizona who was grievously wounded in a mass shooting in 2011, has dedicated herself — Congress should act decisively to restore responsibility and end this unique legal protection for the gun industry. Until it does so, there will be no incentive for the industry to act reasonably.
Decades ago, the tobacco industry hired doctors to plug the health benefits of cigarettes, and the auto industry claimed that seat belts were an unnecessary extravagance. The results were an epidemic of deaths, followed by civil law suits, followed by industry reform.
Today, smoking is down and cars are safer. In part, we have the market to thank. When these industries acted irresponsibly, basic principles of civil liability placed the costs of illness and accident where they belonged. Once their bottom line was affected, even the most myopic executives had to take notice.
I believe that with rights come responsibilities. By immunizing the gun industry from basic principles of legal liability, Congress kept the rights and repealed the responsibilities.
The Second Amendment right to bear arms is an important right. But the contours of that right must not extend to those who look away as their guns enter the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable. Congress should immediately repeal the 2005 gun immunity law, and let free-market incentives encourage responsible behavior by the gun industry.