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Gun Ruling Sends Shockwaves Through Bradyville

by Erich Pratt
GOA Communications Director

(May 2, 2001) -- The inhabitants of Bradyville are up in arms these days.

Bradyville is the land of make-believe, where guns are thought to have magical powers. They are considered so evil that children have even been punished for waving a thumb and finger in the air -- forming the shape of a gun -- and saying "bang."

Yes, the inhabitants of Bradyville don't want guns in their town. And they have crafted all kinds of constitutional and legal theories to get them out of your town, too.

Well, New York's top court handed down a verdict on April 26 that has sent shockwaves rippling throughout the land. The court ruled that gun makers can't be held liable when a bad guy uses one of their guns to kill someone.

That should be a no-brainer. After all, we don't hold General Motors liable when a wacko uses a Cadillac to intentionally run over children at a day-care center.

A situation like that actually happened in California two years ago. To date, no one in the media or in Congress has called upon the courts to stick it to the car industry. Yet, that is exactly what gun grabbers in Bradyville are trying to do to gun makers.

The recent ruling out of New York, however, comes as a huge blow. Sarah Brady's foundation in the nation's capitol -- which helped bring the lawsuit -- declared the verdict a "setback."

Oh, but this was more than just a setback. The inhabitants of Bradyville have spent countless hours and untold dollars in courtrooms all across the nation to make this legal argument stick.

Nevertheless, they have suffered an almost complete string of losses. They are losing the suits that private individuals are bringing against gun manufacturers. They are losing the taxpayer-funded suits that 31 city and county governments have launched.

They have lost in states which are somewhat conservative -- like Florida. And they have now lost in liberal courts like those in New York state.


"If an extremely liberal New York court will not swallow the legal arguments coming from gun haters, then why should anyone else?"


So you have to wonder: if an extremely liberal New York court will not swallow the legal arguments coming from gun haters, then why should anyone else?

The judges from the Empire State warned that we should be cautious in imposing "novel" theories of law.

Still, the lawyers from Bradyville march on, spending thousands -- perhaps millions -- of dollars pursuing untried, novel theories. Why?

Quite simply, because they are not worried about losing in court.

What they really want is to financially cripple the dozens upon dozens of American businessmen who make a living selling a constitutionally protected item.

Edward Rendell lives in Bradyville. As the former mayor of Philadelphia and a previous head of the Democratic National Committee, he speaks for many of Bradyville's residents.

"The impact of so many cities filing suit all at once would be monumental for gun manufacturers," Rendell said. "They don't have the deep pockets of the tobacco industry, and it could bring them to the negotiating table a lot sooner."

You see, that's what they really want in Bradyville. They want to put a gun to the head of the gun makers, so to speak, and threaten them with extinction if they don't agree to negotiate... if they don't agree to preemptively swallow a vast gun control agenda.

Thus, their "novel" theory doesn't have to win in court. It only needs to bully the gun makers into submission.

So here's the $10 million question: if gun grabbers are willing to use "novel" legal theories to sink the American gun industry, what makes us think they aren't using "novel" theories when it comes to attacking the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms?

What makes us think they don't skew the truth in order to sell us on gun bans, licensing and registration?

In Bradyville, they tell us the Constitution only protects firearms for those in the militia. They tell us guns are only for the National Guard. You and I don't have a constitutional right to keep arms for protection, they say.

But that's not what the Founding Fathers believed. Nor is it what a majority of the courts have stated over our more than 200-year history.

For example, James Madison -- known as the Father of the Constitution -- said in Federalist Paper 46 that the Constitution preserves "the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation... [where] the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."

And more recently, the U.S. Supreme Court stated (in 1990) that the "people" mentioned in the Second Amendment are the same "people" mentioned elsewhere in the Bill of Rights.

This means that the right of the "people" to keep and bear arms is a freedom that belongs not just to a select group of government-appointed bureaucrats, but to all Americans.

Well, this need not strike fear into the hearts of Bradyville denizens. Guns are used more often to save lives than to take lives. And besides, guns really don't have magical powers. They are simply a tool, and on their own, can't walk down the street and shoot someone.

Erich Pratt is the Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America, a national gun lobby with over 300,000 members located at 8001 Forbes Place, Springfield, VA 22151 and at on the web.

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The essence of constitutionalism in a democracy is not merely to shape and condition the nature of majorities, but also to stipulate that certain things are impermissible, no matter how large and fervent a majority might want them. George Will

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