It’s time for gun dealers to take ethical and legal responsibility

Don’t let the NRA call the shots.

Please donate to Survivors Empowered to continue our tireless efforts to support gun violence survivors and help legislative and regulatory change to stop the carnage. By donating, you send a message to the NRA at its upcoming convention that it’s time to stop the Kool-Aid drinking and embrace Critical Thinking.

In this ScienceAlert.com article headline: “The Leading Risk Factor in Disease Is Something Few of Us Have Any Control Over,” let’s substitute the word “death” for “disease.”

Then, add the firearms industry to the list of industries that the article calls out for hurting and killing people in the name of profits: “We now know exposure to just four classes of product – tobacco, alcohol, ultra-processed foods and fossil fuels – are linked to one out of every three deaths worldwide…Worse, even when these corporations become aware of the harms their products cause, they have often systematically hidden these harms to boost profits at the expense of our health. Major tobacco, oil, food, pharmaceutical and chemical corporations have all applied similar techniques, privatising the profits and spreading the harms.”

This article excerpt perfectly describes the overt and covert actions of the gun industry: “When companies act to conceal the harm their products do, they prevent us from protecting ourselves and our children. We now have many well-documented cases of corporate wrongdoing, such as asbestos, fossil fuels, pesticides, herbicides, sugar, silica, and of course tobacco. In these instances, corporations intentionally manufactured doubt or hid the harms of their products to delay or prevent regulation and maintain profits.”

Clearly, parity—defined by Merriam-Webster as the quality or state of being equal or equivalent—demands that the gun industry merits inclusion in the list of industries putting profits over people. Yet it moves merrily on, contributing to the killing and wounding of people in staggering numbers.

Of course, the gun industry and its lobbyists place all the blame on the people doing the shooting—refusing to voluntarily accept liability or culpability for any of it. Yet, all of the other industries listed in the Science Alert article are being called to account—both ethically and monetarily—in many ways.

Unfortunately, despite lip service to the contrary, gun advocates typically don’t make a distinction between responsible gun ownership and irresponsible gun-related actions. This is a clear case of Kool-Aid Drinking versus Critical Thinking.

Anyone logically thinking through the huge and deadly divide between respectful and lawful gun use and those using guns to kill and wound can see that better regulation, consistent enforcement, and a few common-sense measures will drastically reduce the carnage. 

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, co-founders of Survivors Empowered, were NRA members and gun owners prior to the shooting death of their daughter. In addition to experiencing the horror of her untimely demise, the Phillipses were bankrupted when trying to sue the firearms industry for negligence contributing to their daughter’s death. Forced to follow the federal law shielding firearms dealers from legal liability, the Colorado court had no choice but to force Sandy and Lonnie to pay court costs of $203,000 to the arms dealer defendants.

Even now, after so much emotional trauma inflicted by a lone shooter, the Phillipses still support responsible gun ownership. But, they demand justice parity—where irresponsible and illegal acts by firearms dealers are assessed and adjudicated in a manner equivalent to the industries mentioned above.

Key to parity is the ability to hold the firearms industry accountable. To that end, Sandy and Lonnie Phillips vociferously amplify the message that the federal law known as PLCAA (Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act) be repealed. 

Increasingly, states are acting on their own to regulate and green light legal proceedings against firearms dealers. It’s way past time for the federal government to step up to the plate.

When the Baltimore Key Bridge collapsed, the federal government stepped in immediately to fund everything needed to rebuild lives and the bridge itself. Yet, when there are mass shootings, where is the federal government? Where is the federal government helping to reduce the number one killer of kids in the US—guns?

Guns are intertwined into the fabric of this country. It’s time for responsible gun ownership to be interwoven as well.

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