NYT Columnist’s Public Health Approach To Guns Suggests Ending Immunity For Gun Companies

Posted: Feb 23, 2018 1:40 PM
NYT Columnist’s Public Health Approach To Guns Suggests Ending Immunity For Gun Companies

Okay—this was a slight improvement for The New York Times, but they still peddle the same tired anti-gun arguments. This month, Nicholas Kristof repeated some of the initiatives he put forward in his October 2017 column after the Las Vegas shooting. In the aftermath of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last Wednesday; Kristof had a couple things that made sense, though his piece was mostly grounded in anti-gun talking points. He admits that the liberal approach to gun control has failed, but suggests a “public health approach,” which is essentially the same thing. 

He adds that America has a lot of guns. No kidding—it’s a constitutionally protected right. He goes off the rails when he says we have a model for regulation: cars.

We don’t ban cars, but we work hard to regulate them – and limit access to them – so as to reduce the death toll they cause. This has been spectacularly successful, reducing the death rate per 100 million miles driven by 95 percent since 1921.

Again, driving is not a right; it’s a privilege. And banning cars because of car crashes caused by irresponsible drunk drivers is just as idiotic as banning guns. If we were going to go down this road, looking at gun control through the framework of car sales, then it would be like adding more regulations to make it harder for sober people to buy cars to prevent drunk driving.

With gun policy, it’s not toxic masculinity. It’s mental illness, and I don’t mean that in the sense of someone with Asperger’s or autism. Most mentally ill people don’t attack people and most are more of a danger to themselves. We’re talking about instances, like Nikolas Cruz, where something was seriously off and nothing was done about.  If that means strengthening background checks regarding such behavior, I’m willing to have that discussion; Cruz, the Florida shooter, should have never been able to purchase a firearm.

At least, Kristof admits that the so-called assault weapons ban “accomplished little.” So, what’s the public health approach? Well, this is it [emphasis mine]:

Background Checks

22 percent of guns are obtained without one.

Protection Orders

Keep men who are subject to domestic violence protection orders from having guns.

Ban Under-21s

A ban on people under 21 purchasing firearms (this is already the case in many states).

Safe Storage

These include trigger locks as well as guns and ammunition stored separately, especially when children are in the house.

Straw Purchases

Tighter enforcement of laws on straw purchases of weapons, and some limits on how many guns can be purchased in a month.

Ammunition Checks

Experimentation with a one-time background check for anybody buying ammunition.

End Immunity

End immunity for firearm companies. That’s a subsidy to a particular industry.

Ban Bump Stocks

A ban on bump stocks of the kind used in Las Vegas to mimic automatic weapon fire.

Research ‘Smart Guns’

“Smart guns” fire only after a fingerprint or PIN is entered, or if used near a particular bracelet

Some states, like Delaware, already have passed tougher penalties for straw purchases. Bump stocks are not widely used and are mostly considered a novelty item. There are already laws requiring firearms to not be within the reach of children. Moreover, how will safe storage put a dent in curbing the already rare occurrence of mass shootings? Smart gun technology is another piece of window dressing that even Wired, a tech magazine, said wouldn’t reduce mass shootings. 

Where there could be some agreement is strengthening protection orders; you’re already banned from owning firearms upon domestic abuse convictions. No one wants wife beaters to have guns. The raising the age limit to 21 is another hot topic, but I’m inclined to be against it since it bars young Americans who are of voting age from defending themselves and exercising their civil rights. The age to purchase a long gun has been 18 for decades—and it’s becoming clearer by the day that the age limit for rifles wasn’t the issue. It was local and federal law enforcement who dropped the ball and missed multiple red flags on the shooter. 

Kristof does mention that deaths from mass shootings do not constitute the vast majority of gun deaths. That would be suicides. Though he does lament the expansion of concealed carry. He also says that there’s a shocking lack of research on guns, which isn’t necessarily true. He didn’t repeat the claim that it’s been shut down for 20 years, but progress on how to reduce gun violence has been made. They just don’t center on gun confiscation, assault weapons bans, and any of the other things anti-gun liberals like. 

The most troubling is the immunity for gun companies. Folks, there is no doubt that if President Bush didn’t pass the Protection of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act in 2005, we would have lawsuits aimed at gutting the gun industry and our Second Amendment rights with it.  As of now, you cannot sue a gun maker based on his product being unknowingly and unwillingly used by criminals who commit acts of violence. Now, provisions concerning defective safety issues, criminal misconduct (knowingly selling a firearm to a criminal for example), and other examples that constitute “negligent entrustment” do make parties liable, but suing a firearms maker because of a shooting by a criminal is all but shielded by litigation. It’s one of the best bills that protect our constitutional rights. And the anti-gun Left wants to gut it to open a backdoor to the elimination of the Second Amendment. 

The other things in the piece, like background checks, bans on violent criminals from owning guns, waiting periods, etc. are already on the books and wouldn’t stop future mass shootings. The barring of people on no-fly/terrorism watch lists is also shoddy. First, there’s no system of due process, you get on the list for merely being accused of doing something shady, which is highly arbitrary, and most people on these lists are not Americans so they can’t buy firearms. Even the LA Times editorial board thought this idea were an overreach. 

Make no mistake. We’re talking banning so-called assault weapons now, but calls for repealing PLCAA are coming. It happened on the campaign trail in 2016. It’s going to be unearthed again.