Adam Gee, a friend and fellow New York personal injury lawyer, recently blogged about the newly enacted New York "assault rifle" ban. Adam is very knowledgeable about guns and about this new law. I can't claim to be knowledgeable about either, since I have never held a gun in my hand (except squirt guns) and have not read the new law. But what Adam appears to be saying is that upstanding citizens should have a right to own guns like those used in the Sandy Hook massacre, i.e., M-16 military style guns capable of killing a lot of people in a little time.
While I fully respect the rights of my fellow citizens to own and use guns designed for hunting and basic protection in their homes, I question the right to own military type rapid-fire guns. After all, you have to draw the line somewhere. The right to bear arms does not include, I don't think, the right to own nuclear bombs, fertilizer-truck bombs, grenade launchers or machine guns. Although the kind of M-16 style gun used in the Sandy Hook massacre did not go that far, still, where do you draw the line? I would draw it before the M-16 style weapon.
And I don't think such bans are unconstitutional. In District of Columbia v. Heller,, the Supreme Court found that reasonable prohibitions and restrictions on firearms possession are consistent with the Second Amendment. And if you interpret the Second Amendment to mean that the government cannot ban any weapon, well, why can't I buy my first nuclear bomb at Amazon.com (as soon as I finish blogging)?
Banning such guns is not the only solution (although it's the best). I've got an alternative to an outright ban: A statute holding manufacturers and vendors of M-16 style guns (who are making a "killing" on sales) strictly liable to the victims of shooting sprees where those guns are employed.
Sounds pretty radical, but I think it's fair. The resulting lawsuits would push up the price of those guns as manufacturers pass the cost onto the consumers, making them less affordable and less prevalent. Consumers who nevertheless choose to exercise their "right" to own an M-16 style gun would end up shouldering the cost to society by financing victim payouts.
It's a win-win situation. Unless you happen to be a gun manufacturer, an assault rifle aficionado or a mass murderer. But the rest of us win. We're safer, our kids are safer. And don't feel too sorry for the gun manufacturers, who can still make and sell guns, nor for the sportsmen, who can still buy and use them. All I'm saying is, at the very least, the cost of having deadly mass-killing machines "out there" should be born by those who enjoy them or profit from them.
My two cents!
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Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.
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