Photo: SB Johnny; creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en
President Joe Biden used Monterey Park, California as the backdrop for his scripted announcement of a new executive order which he claims will help reduce violent crimes by putting his presidential crosshairs on gun manufacturers. He claimed that these companies are “the only outfit you can’t sue these days.” However, that claim is demonstrably false. Gun manufacturers have been and continue to be liable for design flaws which make their products unsafe for typical use. However, gun manufacturers have historically not been liable for someone using their product for criminal activity, which is not the intended purpose of a firearm.
This exception is not unique to the firearm industry. If you read the instruction manual for anything from kitchen gadgets to furniture to power tools, they all contain a warning not to use their products for something other than what it was intended. It logically follows that when you don’t heed that warning, it is the fault of the operator and not the manufacturer. If someone commits murder with a pocket knife, should we blame Swiss Army? If someone commits murder with a baseball bat, do the lawyers come for Louisville Slugger? The firearm industry is not asking for some kind of a special carveout. All they want is to not be specially targeted for someone misusing their product, just like any other manufacturer.
President Biden’s executive order also directs the Federal Trade Commission to investigate “how gun manufacturers market firearms to minors and how much manufacturers market firearms to all civilians, including through the use of military imagery.” Yet, I fail to see what is so concerning about either of those things. Responsible gun use is a great hobby for a young person under adult supervision. And should we blame gun manufacturers for trying to make their products look appealing to potential customers? Manufacturers and gun advocacy groups like the National Rifle Association are not advocatinig for recklessness. They are the leading proponents of safe and responsible gun use.
Joe Biden really missed the mark when he went after gun manufacturers with his new executive order. As long as he keeps this up, Americans are only likely to see more violent crime, not less.