Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Mass shootings

Time for a victims compensation fund, paid for by the gun industry

Posted

The shooting erupts. People, often children, die in horrifying numbers. We offer thoughts and prayers, and move on, until the next mass shooting momentarily attracts our attention, and we repeat the entire exercise all over again. When it comes to guns these days, that’s the reality that’s baked in to our daily experience in 21st century America.

So first things first. Let’s quit pretending that gun control legislation is going to be the solution to the problem. Meaningful gun control is unlikely to happen because of the political power of the National Rifle Association and because the Supreme Court has upheld an individual’s right to own guns.

Besides, America is already so awash with guns, that it’s unclear whether controlling the sale of things like assault rifles would have any appreciable impact on our mass shooting phenomenon, at least in the short run. As for confiscation of legally-owned firearms, that isn’t going to happen in America, nor should it.

This is not to suggest, however, that America has no alternative but to suffer an endless series of mass shootings, leaving thousands of victims and their families behind to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

While America has a long history of gun ownership, it also has a long history of holding manufacturers accountable for the inherent dangers of the products they sell. The Supreme Court says the constitution protects individual gun ownership, but the constitution gives no protection, nor should it, to a gun manufacturer or seller who profits from the sale of weapons, ammunition, and related accessories that are intentionally advertised for their capacity to maximize mayhem.

Other industries have been held accountable when they’ve put the public at risk. We tell power plants they can’t spew toxic chemicals into the air, because some people will be sickened by them, and we fine them if they don’t comply. We’ve fined auto manufacturers billions of dollars, and regularly have them initiate costly recalls when their products prove unsafe. We sued the cigarette manufacturers for tens of billions of dollars to compensate states for the medical costs their products inflicted on society.

It’s time we do the same thing to those who make millions in profits off the carnage in our streets and our schools. We need to change the incentives in the gun industry, by making those who cash in from the bloodshed pay for the costs they inflict on society, just as we do in other industries. Rather than another push for gun control measures that ends up stalled out in Congress, Americans who are fed up should push for the creation of an American Gun Victims Compensation Fund, paid for by a windfall profits tax or a similar assessment on the manufacturers of the guns, high-powered ammo, and large capacity clips, that are routinely used in mass shootings.

By focusing on compensation for victims, the NRA and its allies in Congress can’t continuously wrap themselves in the flag and the constitution whenever the latest massacre prompts a renewed push for gun control measures. There is no constitutional right to profit off the death, injury, and suffering of others. Focusing on compensation, rather than gun control, would fundamentally alter the debate.

Such a tax should be levied directly on the profits of those manufacturers who make the exact weapons that are used in mass murder and the proceeds should be used to pay for the medical costs, pain and suffering, lost income, and compensation to family members of victims as well.

That’s not only the right thing to do for victims, it would likely prompt these companies to stop selling the types of guns, ammunition and accessories, that have become the preferred tools of killers. It could very well prompt the manufacturers to take steps on their own to ensure that these weapons aren’t made accessible to dangerous individuals. They could do that if they truly wanted to address the problem, rather than profit from it.

We don’t have to ban these weapons to make meaningful progress on this issue. But we do need to hold the merchants of death accountable, by making the destruction wrought by the products they sell a lot more expensive. The gun industry makes millions off the bloodletting. It’s time it starts costing them, instead.

Comments

17 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
bonfire

There is no advanced nation that has shooting deaths and massacres like we do, not even close. There have been eight school shooting events in 2018 already. On average, more than two dozen children are shot every day in the US. 58 people died and hundreds injured in Las Vegas massacre. And on and on. This is a national disgrace. If other nations can curb this, so can we...if we actually value our children and grandchildren lives and safety.

Friday, February 23
Hardrockminer

So...... If someone is killed by a drunk driver, the manufacturer of the car and the liquor industry should be held liable? I think not. Evil exists unfortunately. Perhaps the devil could be sued? The most recent Florida school shooting could have been prevented if authorities had done their job. Sue the FBI?

Saturday, February 24
Marshall Helmberger

Actually, hard rock, the example of the drunk driver is a useful one. It’s well established in common law that if a bartender pours the drink that causes someone to injure another on the road, the bartender and the tavern can be held liable. In some states, dram shop laws are even in statute. The legal theory is based on negligence. In the case of assault weapons, we have an industry that routinely advertises these weapons and accessories for their killing power. It is perfectly foreseeable that some of their customers so enticed will use the weapons precisely for their advertised killing power, just as it is foreseeable that a similarly irresponsible barkeep will put inebriated customers on the road, some of whom might kill people. As for the auto manufacturer you referenced, there is no identifiable negligence so they would not be responsible in a drunk driving incident. On the other hand, if the manufacturer had sold a car it knew to be unsafe and injuries resulted, that would entail negligence because the injuries would have reasonably been foreseeable and they would likely be held accountable.

Saturday, February 24
Snowshoe2

Kids have a Right to Life,Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

For 250 years every Supreme court decision said their can be limits on the type of guns allowed. Even the last case was a 5-4 decision in favor of Guns in a limited case decision and they even said absolutely there can be limitations of some kind. The previous decision was 9-0 Miller vs the U.S. and the decision was certain types of guns can be limited.

Mass shootings are going to get worse if we don't do away with guns like the Ar-15 . Guns will change more in the future and more lethal.

The bloodshed is just beginning and will get worse with the NRA promoting their agenda and the manufactor of the AR-15 used in this masscure (sp)just donated over a million dollars to the NRA agenda. Its philosophy more guns the better-it promotes guns to be a tool of death.

These young kids have a Right of Life,Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Mass murders are up close to 100% since the NRA lobbied and got the 1994 to 2004 ban on AR 15 type guns. Yes we all survived in more ways than one during this period.

Were number 1 in the world on murder by guns and killing children. pretty sad.

Saturday, February 24
Snowshoe2

Correction mass murders are up 186% since the ban on assault type weapons was lifted in 2004.

Saturday, February 24
Lee Peterson

Very, very fortunately, many young people are seeing through and fighting back against the pathetic dogma being promoted by the likes of hard rock. I admire these young people who are motivated by a concern for humanity and who are grounded in factual reality.

To these young people, ignorance is not a badge of honor, as it is for the NRA-Republican old guard.

dogma: "a point of view or tenet put forth without adequate grounds" That's putting it mildly.

Lee Peterson

Sunday, February 25
Mark Josephson

A couple of links to articles that may be of interest to readers if they haven't already read them:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/23/opinion/brian-mast-assault-weapons-ban.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/world/americas/mass-shootings-us-international.html

Thanks Timberjay for a great website and paper.

Monday, February 26
Lee Peterson

Thanks for the links. I saw an interview with Brian Mast earlier today.

I bet the Republicans are tucked in and sleeping better tonight after their exalted leader Trump said today that "I REALLY BELIEVE THAT I'D RUN IN THERE EVEN IF I DIDN'T HAVE A WEAPON". Only Republicans can drink that juice. And they do. How pathetic....

Tuesday, February 27
Lee Peterson

The first link is still available, the second apparently isn't.

But, there is plenty of factual information out there on America's problems related to assault weapons. It all boils down to an extremely unholy result of the NRA and the Republican Party becoming one and the same. The NRA/Republican Party is destroying our democracy and killing our own people in the process. Support the young people--they are our hope now. I'm impressed with them. And I can remember when my generation ferreted out the fallacy of the Vietnam War.

Too many old people bow to the alter of the Republican tax cut and the stock market bubble. That is fleeting.

The young people can see beyond that.

Tuesday, February 27
Steve Jacobson

You mean the young people that just last week were eating Tide Pods?

Tuesday, February 27
Mark Josephson

Sorry about the second link. I'll see if I can do a workaround. It's an interesting study.

On a related note, Eric Black has a piece on the Second Amendment on the MinnPost site that is generating lots of comments that you may want to check out. Piece was published 02/26/18.

Full disclosure for all readers:

-I'm a military veteran

-I own firearms, although no AR-style assault weapons

-I was born in NE MN and a good science program at my school inspired me to pursue a science-based education and career that , in some ways unfortunately, required me to leave the area. I do, however, return frequently to visit family, dine, hike, camp, paddle, hunt grouse, pick berries and basically enjoy northern St. Louis, Lake, and Cook counties.

Tuesday, February 27
Mark Josephson

https://www.minnpost.com/eric-black-ink/2018/02/second-amendment-and-has-always-been-hot-mess

Tuesday, February 27
Mark Josephson

This seems to work now at home, but perhaps there's some firewall issue or some other tech thing I don't understand.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/world/americas/mass-shootings-us-international.html

If it doesn't, you should be able to find the study online.

Tuesday, February 27
Snowshoe2

Once upon a time there was once a NRA that was a moderate organization and than those moderates got kicked out and it has become a extremist organization in viewpoint and also social objectives.

Tuesday, February 27
Lee Peterson

"You mean the young people that just last week were eating Tide Pods?" - ala Steve Jacobson

Obviously you have not listened to the interviews of the young people from the Florida school where their classmates were slaughtered. Their discourse is many levels above yours, Steve.

They are taking the tragedy seriously and are not spewing out ignorance....

They are trying to make some good come out of it. And they are steadfast.

Tuesday, February 27
bonfire

It's odd and ironic that the NRA would be have been affiliated with car rental companies such as Hertz when the companies impose tyrannical, anti-freedom rules on renters, license, insurance and age restrictions.

Wednesday, February 28
Lee Peterson

NRA spokes woman Dana Loesch appears in a new NRA video: "Time's up". It's one minute, seven seconds long. If you haven't seen it on TV, it's easy to find with an internet search. This is typically pathetic NRA output. It's the new normal for the NRA/Republican Party.

The NRA has captured the Republican Party. They don't need to capture responsible people. Resign from it.

Thursday, March 8