Guns and Responsibility

Trump Maladministration

There was another school shooting today, this time in Indiana. Fortunately, no one was killed, although two were wounded. An unarmed science teacher saved the day.

Seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker said the science teacher likely prevented even more injuries by confronting the shooter, who he said pulled out a gun and opened fire while the class was taking a test.

“Our science teacher immediately ran at him, swatted a gun out of his hand and tackled him to the ground,” Stonebraker said. “If it weren’t for him, more of us would have been injured for sure.”

We don’t know where the shooter got his gun. But we’ve had a number of recent circumstances in which shooters used their parents’ guns, or who were not supposed to have guns according to a court but were indulged by a parent.

I’d like to direct your attention to a post at a blog called Stonekettle that I have found recently. The blogger describes a conversation between himself and someone opposed to gun control laws. The blogger argues that there should be enforceable laws making the owner of a gun legally responsible if that gun is used in a crime, including a mass shooting. The other person objects:

If someone takes my car without permission and runs someone over with it, am I liable? The same answer applies to if someone took one of my guns without permission to murder someone else.

YES.

Yes. You can be held liable depending on circumstance.

Tony might want to check the laws of his state.

You see, in many states failure to properly secure your vehicle does make you liable under the law – not to mention, being grounds for claim denial by your insurance company.

For example: In nearly every state it is illegal to leave a running car unattended, even on private property, even if the the door is locked, and in some states even if you use a remote starting system with anti-theft lockout capability.

If you leave your car unsecured, with the keys in the ignition, you can be held liable for its theft and subsequent use in a crime.

Likewise, if you loan your vehicle to somebody unauthorized to operate it, or who is impaired, or who is not covered under your insurance, then you are liable for whatever happens with that vehicle. You are most certainly liable if your kids take your car and kill somebody because you left the keys where they could get them. You’re responsible for both the kids and the car.

However, if you take reasonable steps to secure your vehicle and to keep it out of the hands of unauthorized users, then the law generally does not hold you accountable if someone steals your car.

This is no different whatsoever from what I suggested.

Very simply, if you own a gun, you are responsible for it. If you leave it where your child can get it, and your child takes it and shoots up his science class with it, you should bear some legal responsibility. Likewise if a loaded gun is left where a toddler can get it, and the toddler kills himself or a sibling, that is not an “accident.” The owner of the gun is responsible for that shooting, and he or she should be legally responsible also. If you can document that you keep your guns in a safe or secure, locked cabinet, and a master thief gets into your house, picks the locks and steals the gun, and you report this to police, then you are not liable. Otherwise, you are. And if there are soft headed judges who routinely hand out suspended sentences for irresponsible gun ownership, maybe we can talk about mandatory sentences.

I do think that if gun owners get the message that they can get hit with serious fines and jail time for what is done with their guns, I suspect we’d see a lot fewer school shootings, at least.

Further, gun violence — including the costs of law enforcement and medical bills — are estimated to be costing U.S. taxpayers $100 billion a year. Gun owners should be required to pay for liability insurance to help pay for that. I’d tack additional sales taxes onto gun sales as well.

Are there any sensible arguments why this isn’t a good idea?

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. csm  •  May 25, 2018 @5:58 pm

    No, there are no sensible arguments against making gun owners liable when a gun owner's irresponsibility results in their guns causing injury or death.  The NRA itself cries piously about "responsible gun owners" and yet, unlike their lobbying to ensure guns are more widely available, make no equivalent effort to ensure laws are created to codify what being a responsible gun owner really means.  If my minor child takes my car keys, goes out, joyrides and crashes through my neighbor's window, my neighbor gets to sue me, and my insurance company is well within its right to deny any claim I make.  There's no reason why I as a parent of a child should not be held responsible if said child took my gun, went to school and shot somebody.  There is no rational argument that the two are not the same and should be treated differently.  

    And yet, the NRA death lobby and their followers insist that it is rational because, the second amendment.

  2. Doug  •  May 25, 2018 @8:15 pm

    "Are there any sensible arguments why this isn’t a good idea?"

    Answer – "no".

  3. uncledad  •  May 26, 2018 @8:16 am

    The only problem with "sensible arguments" is the NRA. Requiring that gun owners be responsible could inhibit the sale of guns, the NRA is in the business of maximizing gun sales, responsible gun laws could hurt sales? This is why we have all these "stand your ground" laws, background checl loopholes, easy access-no wait period, etc… the NRA knows if gun owners have to face the consequences of gun ownership it could impede sales.

  4. moonbat  •  May 26, 2018 @11:37 am

    Thom Hartmann wrote an article a few months ago arguing that guns should be treated like cars.

    What We Learned From Cars

    While there were a number of automobile manufacturing companies in the late 19th century, it was really at the turn of the 20th century that cars became a hot commodity in the United States.

    ….So it was that, around 1915, many states began to notice that cars were killing people. They were being hit on the roads, dying when drivers didn’t know how to avoid running into trees or off bridges, and in accidents with horse-drawn carts and other automobiles.

    Which presented the lawmakers of most states with a serious question: What to do to protect the public, including the car owners, from the dangers of death and disfigurement that cars presented?

    The answer that most states came up with, and has now largely been standardized across the U.S. and most of the world, was a very simple and straightforward three-part criterion for car ownership and operation.

    1) Establish ownership. In order to be able to manage all the cars coming onto the roads, both as valuable pieces of theft-worthy hardware and to track liability issues, all cars were required to have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which was stamped onto the car during manufacture and followed it until the day it was destroyed or decommissioned. Similarly, the owner of that car and its VIN had to present himself to state authorities and sign a title of ownership, which had to be recorded with the state whenever title was transferred to a new owner.

    2) Prove competence. By the years around 1915 there had been so many fatalities and serious injuries attributable to cars that the states decided they only wanted people driving on public roads who actually knew how to handle a car properly. This meant defining rules for the road, having people learn those rules, and testing them – both in writing and practically in person – to show they truly could drive safely. When people passed the tests, they were given a license to drive.

    3) Require liability insurance. Because virtually all car accidents were just that – accidents – most people who “caused” accidents were at both financial and legal risk….

  5. c u n d gulag  •  May 26, 2018 @11:48 am

    Regarding gun nuts:

    Like with religious nuts, nothing sensible  can penetrate these zealot's thick skulls.

    You're either with Jesus, or you're with Satan.

    You're either with Smith & Wessom, or you're against the 2nd Amendment and America.

    They have names for people lik who don't believe in the same things they do:

    Heretic.

    Traitor.

  6. c u n d gulag  •  May 26, 2018 @12:05 pm

    Regarding gun nuts:

    Like with religious nuts, nothing sensible  can penetrate these zealot's thick skulls.

    You're either with Jesus, or you're with Satan.

    You're either with Smith & Wessom, or you're against the 2nd Amendment and America.

    They have names for people like us, who don't believe in the same things they do:

    Heretic.

    Traitor.

    In the past, they burned  the former, and hung the latter.

    I often worry about the future.  I don't want to be barbecued, or have my size 20 neck stretched until it snaps. 

    I, don't think we'll ever get the shit-stains that tRUMP and his zealous followers have soiled America and all that it stood for centuries with. (Sorry for this awkward sentence).

    To those people, in the future, the tRUMP years will be fondly remembered as "The Good Old Days."  

     

  7. c u n d gulag  •  May 26, 2018 @12:07 pm

    Whatn the fu…?

  8. Tom_b  •  May 26, 2018 @12:33 pm

    It’s probably the lead poisoning; breathing the fumes from the shooting ranges. Honestly, that would explain a lot of Republican behavior— madness.

  9. moonbat  •  May 26, 2018 @12:52 pm

    A few months ago Thom Hartmann wrote Two Simple Laws Could Solve America’s Epidemic of Violence. One of them relates to treating guns like we learned to do with cars:

    …So it was that, around 1915, many states began to notice that cars were killing people. They were being hit on the roads, dying when drivers didn’t know how to avoid running into trees or off bridges, and in accidents with horse-drawn carts and other automobiles.

    Which presented the lawmakers of most states with a serious question: What to do to protect the public, including the car owners, from the dangers of death and disfigurement that cars presented?

    The answer that most states came up with, and has now largely been standardized across the U.S. and most of the world, was a very simple and straightforward three-part criterion for car ownership and operation.

    1) Establish ownership. In order to be able to manage all the cars coming onto the roads, both as valuable pieces of theft-worthy hardware and to track liability issues, all cars were required to have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which was stamped onto the car during manufacture and followed it until the day it was destroyed or decommissioned. Similarly, the owner of that car and its VIN had to present himself to state authorities and sign a title of ownership, which had to be recorded with the state whenever title was transferred to a new owner.

    2) Prove competence. By the years around 1915 there had been so many fatalities and serious injuries attributable to cars that the states decided they only wanted people driving on public roads who actually knew how to handle a car properly. This meant defining rules for the road, having people learn those rules, and testing them – both in writing and practically in person – to show they truly could drive safely. When people passed the tests, they were given a license to drive.

    3) Require liability insurance. Because virtually all car accidents were just that – accidents – most people who “caused” accidents were at both financial and legal risk. Many were fine, upstanding citizens (in fact, because cars were expensive, most car owners fell into this broad category). And they wanted some defense against the chance of making a mistake and ending up in jail or broke because of lawsuits or the liability costs of caring for people they’d injured…

  10. KC  •  May 26, 2018 @1:42 pm

    These are great ideas.  

  11. Tom_b  •  May 27, 2018 @11:40 am

    Moonbat: excellent ideas I have thought about myself. Trouble is, the NRA, being a terrorist organization, has so far been able to scare its puppet legislators from requiring universal gun registration, which would be a first step towards setting liability, ownership, etc.

    Slightly off topic, on the subject of why police should not be armed: the NFL kneeling. Last week the owners, without a true vote and without even consulting with the player’s union, put in a no kneeling on the field rule. The owners talked about “respecting the flag”. They might as well have talked about the weather, because the kneeling is about police violence and not the flag. Changing the subject is not a good strategy for the fat cats. It is prett transparent. And without the players, they have nothing. I think they are about to learn that lesson. What they should do is go out and kneel with the players. A good boss backs up his people, especially when they are right. All the owners have done so far is to try to offend nobody and end up offending everyone.