Saturday, November 22, 2003

Suing gun manufacturers

It seems that there is are real theoretical problems with holding gun manufacturers liable for the misuse of their products.

If they are responsible for every gun crime, then certainly they are responsible for every good thing done by guns too. There must be a symmetry. Gun manufacturers are either responsible for everything or nothing. They are actually more responsible (read: praiseworthy) for the good things, because, as "B" pointed out to me, they intended the good things. Approximately 2 million crimes a year are prevented with firearms. This is a rather underreported fact, but it is true.

Of course it is easy to overlook millions of good deeds in favor of the little harm, similar to the looking at the ill effects of a war, and ignoring the historic good that will be produced as a result.

John R. Lott recently wrote a new bookthat outlines a strong case for gun legalization.

A strong argument for not holding gun manufacturers responsible is that we have no intuition that they are praiseworthy when they do good. Guns don't prevent crime, police officers do, right? If we do not hold them praiseworthy for their good deeds, and there are millions a year, then we cannot hold them blameworthy for the bad things done with their products.