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‘Technologies of Violence’ – Innovation May Save More Lives Than Regulation

Smart Gun
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We are heartened that the surgeon general takes seriously the technological nature of gun violence in the U.S. For example, his report notes that we have promoted technological solutions to deal with previous public health crises like smoking and automobile fatalities. The report also points out firearms’ special status compared to other technologies like cars, pesticides and pharmaceuticals that can be both beneficial and harmful.  

Unlike those technologies, the current economic and legal landscape insulates firearms from incentives that promote safety innovations. A federal statute largely immunizes the gun industry from the kind of legal liability that can encourage safety-enhancing product reforms. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has virtually no authority over guns. And many courts, applying the Supreme Court’s putatively originalist approach to the Second Amendment, have been quick to give constitutional protection to innovative weapons while striking down innovative laws. 

Federal and state governments can fix some of these problems by revising the relevant statutes or through other policy choices. For example, if smart guns are part of the answer, governments could encourage institutional purchases by police departments and the military, increasing the potential for profit and decreasing costs for consumers. 

The gun debate has largely focused on difficult questions regarding the effectiveness, political plausibility and constitutionality of gun regulation. But the distribution and availability of firearms in the United States is driven by a distinctive set of market and legal forces — focusing on technological innovation might be the easiest path to saving lives. 

— Joseph Blocker and Christopher Buccafusco in Instead of gun regulation, let’s try innovation

5 Responses

  1. “A federal statute largely immunizes the gun industry from the kind of legal liability that can encourage safety-enhancing product reforms. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has virtually no authority over guns.”

    First off, you can sue a gun maker and win if there is a defect that causes injury or death, so stop lying and saying gun makers have no liability.

    What you cannot do is sue a gun maker because someone picks up a gun and pulls the trigger.

    Secondly, drunk driving deaths kill roughly the same number as guns do, even including suicide. Ask them to explain why Chevrolet and Jack Daniel’s aren’t held criminally-liable for drunk driving deaths. Why should gun makers be any different? Legal product, used irresponsibly…

  2. Parents that cannot trust their kids would be the primary if not only market for smart guns in non agency purchases that I can think of. There will always be one failure point too many for most gun owners to trust the technology and with a bare minimum of 400 million “dumb” guns in circulation the concept will be a joke unless it can be exclusively applied to new weapons tech that is superior to conventional firearms and unable to be made outside of a lab/factory

    1. The moron started drinking at 6 PM, then placed the firework on his head at about 10:15 PM.

      Anyone wanna bet his last words were “Hold my beer and watch *this*.” ?

  3. “A federal statute largely immunizes the gun industry from the kind of legal liability that can encourage safety-enhancing product reforms.”

    100% false.

    They can be held liable for defective products.

    The only protection this gives them is, basically, against frivolous lawsuits and acts of others through misuse or criminal use of the products or other acts/things beyond their control through misuse by others. The same protection other industries have through a mixture of laws.

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