“No matter what the anti-gun lobbyists say, or the NRA says, on this day, in this courtroom, the final word was given by the jury. There have been other lawsuits filed against gun manufacturers in the past and juries have traditionally sided with the gun industry, until today. The $110 million award, which the jury handed the plaintiff today, could cripple the gun industry”
The debate that has been raging for decades, in the wake of numbers of mass shootings, has finally been settled; guns are produced with the express purpose of either maiming or killing, they serve no other purpose, and the manufacturers have finally been held accountable. Although there has been significant protest against stricter gun controls in recent years, as the right to keep and bear arms is written into the Constitution, it’s obvious that this jury felt that military style assault weapons are not necessary for the protection of individuals or for the hunting of game and that their sale on the open market has resulted in the untimely deaths of many innocent people, including children.
The defense claimed that the gun manufacturer could no more be held accountable for the deaths than a car manufacturer for road deaths. However, the jury felt differently; cars were invented as a means of transportation and, although their mishandling whether by accident or design can result in death or injury, that is not their intrinsic nature. When guns are used i.e. fired, a bullet is discharged and, should it find the intended target, the result can be nothing other than death or injury. Although arguments were made that knives have been used to commit many murders and the manufacturers have never been held to account, they don’t have the same intrinsic purpose and can be used, for example, to cut food or open packages.
The claim was also made that if someone intends to kill or to maim they will find the means to do so and therefore it is the mental state of the individual that should be at the heart of the argument and not their weapon of choice. The prosecution argued that, although mental health was an issue, gun manufacturers were doing nothing to prevent the sale or distribution of guns, which can fire up to 100 rounds without reloading, to individuals who, in a moment of extreme emotional instability, then had the means to kill dozens of men, women and children in a matter of minutes. Had that weapon not been available to them then the chances of mass destruction were, unquestionably, much lower.
The tragic events that saw this case brought to trial resulted in the deaths of 20 young people. A young man who had been brought up around guns and regularly hunted had seen the deaths of many animals at the hands of his father from a young age and at his own from the age of 11 took took his Dad’s semi automatic assault rifle and gunned down 19 of his peers before taking his own life. He was, allegedly, obsessed with violent ‘shoot em up’ video games, considered to be a bit of a loner and was emotionally immature. It is believed that he carried out the attack after a girl he obviously admired publicly rejected his advances which subsequently resulted in much ridicule. Although we will never know for certain, witnesses said that they saw that the young man had tears streaming down his face just before he ended his own life and ‘seemed to have woken up to the reality of what he had just done’. )
As in so many cases, the perpetrator of this terrible attack could not be held accountable for his actions but, after viewing so many heartbreaking photographs of his victims and the harrowing stories of the survivors, this jury decided that the company who provided the means for this wanton destruction of human life could and should be.
I wrote this piece after watching the film The Runaway Jury (and it’s based on that story) but it’s also as a result of reading the arguments used against gun control in the aftermath of mass shootings. I have taken each of the arguments that I have seen on social media and tried to address them dispassionately as one would have to in a trial against a gun manufacturer.
Personally, I cannot see that rights of the masses can ever take precedence over the lives of individuals but then again I have no right to bear arms and therefore have nothing to lose.
I would really love to hear your opinions on this subject