Accountable

A popular political promise these days is the notion – We’re going to hold the gun manufacturers accountable for gun deaths.
What exactly are we making them accountable for? Accountable for making a safe and legal product or accountable for everyone’s use of the product, lawful or unlawful, at some point in the future?

Okay, so let’s say this actually happens. It would require repealing Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and would be an unprecedented move by the US Government. It would also open Pandora’s box of lawsuits against any maker of any product ever used to harm anther person. But for now, let’s go with it.

First, we need to determine who can sue a firearms manufacturer. Obviously anyone injured or killed by someone committing a crime, that’s the core audience behind this push. But what about the criminal who is shot during a home invasion? Certainly that criminal has legal standing. What if a law enforcement officer shoots the criminal? Does the criminal’s legal standing change if an agent of the government is involved? And what if the officer’s actions are later determined to be unlawful? Should the person shot have the right to sue the manufacturer then? Naturally, our nation’s military use of firearms has got to be added in here too.

So refining the logic down a bit, if a shooting is “good” or justified, then you would assume there would be no legal liability for the manufacturer. If the shooting is “bad” or unjustified/illegal, then that would seem to invoke the civil liability. Bad = lawsuit, good = no lawsuit. That doesn’t seem quite balanced. We’re going to punish them for the bad but not reward them for the good.

As a matter of fairness to the manufacturers, maybe we should do a quick tally at the end of the year and put all the “good” firearm uses in one column and all of the “bad” uses in the other. But what about those cases where a firearm is used, but not fired? Certainly those should be counted. Maybe we’ll give a half point for each of those.

And then, how do we count the deterrent effect a firearm may have? Would our law enforcement officers be as effective if unarmed? Would any our current elected officials or political candidates be willing to visit <insert name of your favorite big city> with unarmed Secret Service, police or other security? And how do we count a criminal’s hesitation to attack, rob, rape or just plain kill someone because that person might be armed and able to stop them instead.

As foolish as all of this sounds, it’s equally foolish to hold a manufacturer liable for an individuals choice in how to use their product.

If a product – any product – is considered safe when used legally, then why would it be considered unsafe when used illegally?

Bob

#oddstuffing #accountable #2ndamendment

Volunteers

A couple of recent events got me thinking about the impact of volunteers in our community. Looking at the activities and organizations I myself am involved in, I saw more and more volunteers making a difference. It made me dig a little deeper.

Nationally, about 25% of the population performs some type of volunteer activity. That’s about 62.8 million people and an estimated $173 billion worth of service contributed. Chances are, some part of your life has or is being influenced by volunteers.

Volunteers are all around us. They are your family, friends and neighbors. They work in political, religious and community organizations as well as private, public and government organizations, non-profit and for-profit corporations, as well as by themselves.

The work they do ranging from teaching, coaching, driving, organizing, cooking, cleaning, building and writing code. Some provide expertise in their field to private companies or to individuals in need. They run private intuitions and clubs. They fight fires, protect our citizens and provide medical aid to those in need. They work tirelessly along side those who are paid for the same services. Many of these volunteers pay for their own training, certifications, equipment and uniforms as well as providing their own time and service. They come together for single events such as natural disasters or cleaning trash from beaches to the long term programs to care for those in need or fighting for constitutional / civil rights.

Their backgrounds are as varied as the jobs they do and represent every facet of life in our nation. Some volunteer to give back to the community, others as a means to learn a new trade. They give to provide services that would not be available otherwise, to share their knowledge and experience with others and to spend times with the ones they love. They do it to help others as well as help themselves.

In 1835 Alexis de Tocqueville published his observations of Democracy in America recognizing the distinctiveness of our voluntary tradition. Since then, we have been known as a nation of joiners. And what a huge impact these volunteers make.

National Volunteer Week was in April this year, but I’m taking today to thank those who have raised their hand and volunteered.

Bob

#oddstuffing #volunteers

Is it Really Common Sense?

I’m hearing a lot of folks spouting common sense ideas these days. What exactly is this common sense they speak of?

Wikipedia’s definition: Common sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, which is shared by (“common to”) nearly all people, and can be reasonably expected of nearly all people without any need for debate.

An acquaintance of mine’s favorite saying was ‘you can’t teach common sense’. This always struck me as odd since if you can’t teach it, how did you learn it in the first place? Humans don’t start out with a whole lot of talent above the basic instinct level. Somewhere along the line you learned something and can apply it to your daily life.

What I’ve found is common sense on any given topic is very specific to your personal history. Example: If you grew up in a cold weather climate, it’s common sense to not let your gas tank get below ¼ in the winter. If you grew up in a warm weather climate and moved north, you probably learned this one your first winter when your gas line froze.

What common sense is not – A simple solution to complex geopolitical, socioeconomic or psychological problems that have plagued mankind since day one. Example: There’s a crime problem in large inner cities. A ‘common sense solution’, create more laws to address the crime. Great! You now have more laws to arrest criminals. But if the criminals are already breaking the law – criminals break laws, that’s how they became criminals in the first place, why would they care about one more law to break?

So why do you hear ‘common sense’ attached to all sorts of change, reform, update or solution? It’s usually a means to convince you that everyone else thinks this way and if you want to be considered someone of normal intelligence and knowledge – like they are, you should be thinking this way too.

If you have to be convinced into believing something is a common sense solution, it probably isn’t either common sense or a solution. It’s more likely part of an agenda they want you to support because it benefits them, not you. Buy into their way of thinking on this topic and the rest just comes easy. If they were right on this one, they must be right about the next one too.

So as we plow deeper into the season of political speeches, posts, posturing and solutions to all your problems with just one vote, think twice about anything being promoted as a common sense proposal. After all, isn’t that just common sense??

Bob

#commonsense #badpolitics #oddstuff