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Who is responsible?

We have a gun homicide pandemic in America.  And there appears to be no end in sight to the slaughter despite the heated debate of how to combat it.  Legislation passed Friday by the House of Representatives certainly is a start.  Although critics could ask pointedly why this assault weapon ban law had a “sunset clause” allowed the law to expire after ten years?

In a recent editorial, The Washington Post claims that gun manufactures cannot “wash their hands” of responsibility for the mass murders in America.  The commentary claims these companies are aggressively marketing their weapons to angry young males and seek sales for pure profit.

I wrote in an earlier blog that the founders of our republic never envisioned nor intended the use of weapons as we see today when they penned the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

But the makers of weapons are legal entities as are cigarette manufacturers, alcoholic beverage firms, automobile companies and petroleum producers and gas stations.

Each of the above for-profit business sells a legal product that occasionally is involved in injury or death. 

Tobacco use causes cancer, alcoholic consumption diminishes the drinker’s ability to think and act clearly, motor vehicles are involved in more than 40,000 deaths every year and gas stations fuel these cars, trucks and motorcycles.

Tobacco manufacturers warn buyers of possible ill effects or death from smoking and alcoholic beverages have similar labels.

In Iowa establishments that sell alcoholic drinks are required to carry Dramshop Insurance that protects the business from liability for the injury or damage caused by inebriated customers.

Should businesses that sell cigarettes be blamed for tobacco-caused illness or death?  Should automobile manufacturers and vehicle dealerships be held equally responsible for the misuse of their products by drivers?

How about the petroleum companies that make gasoline and the gas stations that fuel vehicles and the makers of Electrical Vehicle charging stations?

No. Of course not.

Businesses that make and sell legal products should not be held liable for their misuse by consumers. 

Although I oppose private gun ownership, as long as these weapons are legally sold, these for-profit companies have every right to market their products.

Our capitalist society rewards entities and their shareholders for profits earned from the sale of legally-produced items. Some of us may not like those products and even advocate that they be outlawed.  That, of course, is up to Congress.

Until that happens, whether we consider the profits that accrue to such businesses as either simply well-earned or examples of blatant avarice, these firms are entitled to market their products.

Instead, we should expect consumers to make informed decisions and act responsibly.  Sadly, that responsibility is too often absent in today’s America.

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