Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Liability of gun manufacturers limited by law

While this article is a bit overblown to put it mildly, it is significant that the liability of gun manufacturers for sales to criminals is limited by a special bill. Another interesting part of the article is the large numbers of people in the US actually shot and killed by handguns. Of course Palast does not say how many of these killing were by police as part of their duties.


The Accomplices: Sundance George and Butch Reid and the Virginia Tech
Massacre

by Greg Palast
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

He had accomplices. Don't kid yourself: 23-year-old Cho Seung-hui
didn't forge his two little pistols in his smithy shop.

He had a dealer, a guns-and-bullets pusher-man who put the heat in
his hand, took the kid's money and pocketed it with a grin.

"Whether you are looking for a pistol for affordable training or
simply the excitement of shooting, the P22 is the pistol for you!"

That's the ad on the Walther website for the student-reaper, a
Walther .22.

Not that Walther, or its fellow murder-maker, Glock, which crafted
the other Weapon of Student Mass Destruction, the Glock 7mm, kept all
of the killer kid's money. The gun makers religiously tithe a portion
of their grim reapings to their friends in Washington.

This report isn't about gun control legislation or the right to bear
arms or any of that sideways crap. This is about a group of co-
conspirators who dropped two killing devices into the hands of
someone who shouldn't have had access to a plastic spoon.

But before we bring in the suspects for questioning, let's pull back
the camera lens for the bigger picture. Because what we saw at
Virginia Tech was just a concentrated node of a larger, nationwide
killing spree that goes on day after day in the USA. Eighty-thousand
Americans take a bullet from a hand gun in any year. Thirty-thousand
die. That's one thousand shooting deaths off-camera for each victim
at Virginia Tech.

Sundance Bush is right now at the school for his photo op. The
President is, "saddened and angered by these senseless acts of
violence." But will our senseless and violent President do anything
about it? He already has: On July 29, 2005, the US Senate passed,
then Bush signed, a grant of immunity from lawsuits for Walther,
Glock and other gun manufacturers.

Now, corporations that make hand-guns can't be sued for knowingly
selling firearms to killers. Like that? No other industry has such
wide lawsuit immunity -- not teachers, not doctors, not cops -- only
gun makers.

Here's how Cho got his guns. It's a story you won't hear on CNN. It
begins with something known as, The Iron Pipeline. At one end of the
Pipeline are states like Alabama where gun laws are loosey-goosey.
Gun makers including Glock stuff the 'Bama end of the pipe with far
more guns than can ever be bought legally in that state, knowing full
well that the guns will be illegally shipped up the pipeline into
states where gun laws are tougher. Virginia law prevents "gun-
trafficking"; in Alabama, they could care less.

In every state in America, a bar owner is liable to lawsuit if a
bartender serves too many drinks and a customer dies in an auto
accident. Hand a chainsaw to a child, you're in legal trouble. Until
Bush signed the 2005 protect-the-gun-makers law, the same common law
against negligent distribution applied to firearms.

Bush was aiming at Stephen Fox. Steven can describe feeling pieces of
his brain fly from his skull after a mugger shot him. He's
permanently paralyzed. A jury charged the makers of .25-caliber hand
guns with negligent distribution -- and Bush went wild.

He was especially worked up because the City of New Orleans sued the
gun makers for the cost of hospitalizing cops shot by armaments
pooping out the end of the Iron Pipeline. The NAACP joined in the
suit with the effrontery to demand the gun-pushers alter their
marketing programs to keep their products out of the hands of maniacs
and murderers.

Do the gun manufacturers know their .22's are being used for
something other than hunting long-horned elk? Every year, the federal
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency sends 800,000 requests to the
gun companies to trace weapons found at crime scenes. As Fox's
attorney told me, criminals are a much-valued, if unpublicized,
market segment sought out and provisioned by these manufacturers.

But they're safe, the gun-makers, even if we aren't, because of
Bush's immunity law. But Sundance Bush didn't act alone. There was
Harry 'Butch' Reid, leader of the Senate Democrats, riding shotgun on
the immunity bandwagon.

The Walther .22 comes from Austria. Hitler came from Austria, too.
The Glock 7mm student-slayer comes from Germany. With the legal
protection handed them by Bush and Reid, the two Teutonic weapons
profiteers can skip free of legal judgment with that line well-
practiced by their countrymen: "We were only taking orders -- for our
product."

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