Imagine if Exxon Was Protected From Liability After the Valdez?
John Gruber approvingly quotes Evan Osnos:
Anybody — especially people who favor free markets — should conclude that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was a big mistake. Imagine if Exxon was protected from liability after the Valdez? That’s not how markets should work. It will probably be revised or repealed to make sure that companies are doing safe work — as with any industry.
The argument is that because Exxon was held responsible for the Valdez oil spill, gun manufacturers should be held responsible for deadly shootings.
That's one of the stupidest comments that I've seen smart people make. Exxon was the company operating the Valdez. The Valdez itself was manufactured by National Steel and Shipbuilding Company. As far as I can discover, NASSCO was never sued or penalized over the Exxon Valdez crash. Exxon (the user of the ship) faced massive penalties for the oil spill.
The same principle would apply to cars. If someone uses a Ford Focus to detonate a car bomb, you don't sue Ford for making the car. If someone drives a Ford into a crowd of people, killing some, you don't sue Ford for making the car. And if someone uses a Colt handgun or rifle to kill someone, you don't sue Colt for making the gun. You prosecute the individual who was using the gun.