August 1st, 2005
Back to Opinion columns.
Legislation by litigation
By a wide margin, the U.S. Senate voted to exempt firearm manufacturers from lawsuits over the illegal use of their products. (See articles on CBS News and Fox News.)
Leftists are squealing that this is political payback for the influential National Rifle Association. They are right. The Republicans "know where their bread is buttered", if you will. They know that supporters of the right to keep and bear arms are critical to their electoral success.
But more importantly, this is simply the right thing to do! It makes no sense that firearm manufacturers should be held accountable for the actions of criminals. Gun makers are not the ones committing illegal, violent acts with the products they produce. The only ones responsible for gun violence are the criminals who commit illegal acts. There are already laws in place that deal with providing guns to criminals. The person who actually commits a crime should be the only one who is punished. Gun makers (absent evidence of actual criminal acts) should be left out of it.
Should Ford or General Motors be held accountable for drunk driving, smuggling, or vehicular homicide? Should the makers of baseball bats be held accountable if a criminal uses their product to beat someone else? No. Blaming others for the actions of criminals undermines personal responsibility and sends a dangerous message to America's youth. When you do something bad, it is always someone else's fault. Somehow, millions of law-abiding Americans manage to own guns without using them to kill or maim others.
But there is a more insidious reason Leftists want to make firearm manufacturers liable in civil courts. Second Amendment supporters were a large reason Republicans took over Congress in 1994, after Bill Clinton and Congressional Democrats passed a ban on "assault weapons" (which has since expired) and the Brady Bill. Now, anti-gun forces, who have faced the wrath of voters for legislative moves to limit firearm rights, now seek to use the courts to legislate what they could not do through the political process. They hope they can effectively limit the right to keep and bear arms by litigating firearm manufacturers out of business. This legislation by litigation is a perversion of the judicial system.
Indiana Senator Evan Bayh voted no on this legislation. Once again, Bayh chose to side with Leftists like John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, and Chuck Schumer (all of whom also voted no) over the law-abiding gun owners of Indiana.
In 2004, Republican Senate candidate Marvin Scott warned Hoosiers that Evan Bayh voted with Hillary Clinton far more often than not. In fact, Scott's campaign Web site notes that "Evan Bayh votes with liberal Democrats John Kerry, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton nearly 90% of the time." Unfortunately, Hoosier voters did not pay attention, voting to send Indiana's golden boy back to the Senate for another six years.
I have said many times that Evan Bayh is "Bill Clinton without the immorality". Bayh is a master at appearing to be "moderate" and hiding his support for big government and his Left-leaning voting record. Even as Hoosiers voted decisively to send George W. Bush back to the White House for four more years, they still sent Evan Bayh back to the Senate to oppose the President's agenda.
I think it is unfortunate that Marvin Scott's race was not more of a priority for Indiana Republicans, especially given Bayh's "rising star" status in the national Democratic Party. However, If Bayh runs for President in 2008, he will have a more difficult time clothing himself as a moderate Hoosier Democrat. Republicans at the national level will much more aggressively examine and criticize Bayh's record than Indiana Republicans did in 2004.