Sue. . . somebody

Progressives have been ecstatic over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders entering the 2016 campaign for president.  But struggled to find something to dislike in a recent article titled, “Bernie Sanders, Gun Nut.”  The author, Mark Joseph Stern, reports that Sanders opposed the Brady Act, but supported guns on Amtrak trains and—horrors of horrors—the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.  The latter protects gun manufacturers from nuisance suits and has the additional benefit of annoying the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV).

I’ve discussed the attempt by gun control groups to drive a wedge between gun owners and gun makers before, and here is yet another example.  Take, for example, the report written by the CSGV, “Justice Denied: The Case Against Gun Industry Immunity.”  This cites an incident in 1999 in which a white supremacist attacked a Jewish community center and then killed a postal worker.  Of course, CSGV admits that the murderer got his guns through a private sale, but complains that Glock couldn’t be sued over the crime.

Consider that.  Glock sells a legal product that works.  The company follows the laws governing the manufacture and sale of firearms.  In the view of the CSGV, the Glock 26 is small enough to be concealed easily and can carry a lot of rounds and thereby is popular with criminals, so the maker should be sued if a Glock pistol is used to commit gun violence.

The fact that a lot of law-abiding American gun owners choose the Glock 26 for exactly the reasons that it’s small and can carry a lot of rounds doesn’t enter into the thinking of people opposed to gun rights.  In my state of residence, Arkansas, open carry isn’t allowed most places, so concealment is what we have to do.

But the core argument itself is absurd.  Gun makers sell their guns through licensed dealers or to government agencies.  Those dealers have to run background checks on buyers.  Given the success of firearm designs, though, a particular gun is likely to last decades and can change hands many times, the manufacturer has no responsibility for the actions of a current owner.  To claim otherwise would burden gun makers with a duty to control things they have no possible ability to do anything about.  The law that Sanders is deplored for supporting does leave gun makers open to lawsuits if their products are defective or if they’re sold illegally.  In other words, they’re responsible for exactly the things they ought to be responsible for.

What intrigues me is the progressive attack on Sanders here.  Sanders himself is an interesting case, a self-described socialist from a state that is solidly Democratic, but that has a long tradition for respecting gun rights.  For example, Vermont is the original Constitutional Carry state, having never required residents to have licenses to carry firearms legally.  Consider the history of the progressive movement.  The central idea is protecting and helping the little guy against those in power.  Now whatever conclusion we draw about how well that movement worked out or how much those who currently identify as progressives hold that goal are separate questions, but gun control is exactly the opposite of supporting ordinary citizens.

Bernie Sanders is currently drawing large crowds.  If his positions on gun rights is a sign of movement away from gun control by the Democratic Party, we should welcome this.  And regardless of other political positions, we should applaud any candidate for defending gun rights.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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