Gun-law fight begins at Capitol

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The central question raised by Charles Ashby’s report on newly proposed gun legislation (“Gun-law fight begins at Capitol, February 6, 2013) is this:  are assault weapons more like explosives, or like cans of Coors?

Because firearms are “inherently dangerous products” subject to “strict liability” (unless exempted by law) for misuse, Democratic Senate President John Morse sensibly insists that “assault weapons” should be regulated more like dynamite – as under C.R.S. § 18-12-109 of the Colorado Criminal Code and/or under C.R.S. § 9-7-106, requiring the permitting, regulation, and inspection of explosives.

According to Republican Senator Greg Brophy, no one would sell assault weapons (or even register them, like cars) if they were subject to perpetual strict liability – just as Coors would not distribute beer if it were perpetually liable for drunk-driving accidents.

Common sense rejects any equivalence between a ten-plus round magazine and a 12-pack of suds.  Moreover, exposing gun manufacturers, sellers, and owners to strict liability for their guns’ misuse would also “create jobs” – in the firearm liability insurance industry. 

Thus, contrary to Steve King’s refrain, “Hell no”, the gun debate is not “all just about emotion” – it’s about the money.  Therefore, since King would focus attention away from gun regulation onto “the mental health of the person who walks into those situations”, the answer to his question – “what can we be pro-active about to prevent that?” – is to reverse years of bipartisan budget-cutting and devote more public and private resources to the monitoring and care of the mentally ill.

To generate needed revenues, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s entire costs of conducting gun-transaction background checks should be borne by sellers – contrary to
C.R.S. § 12-12.1-103 – and purchasers of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and ammunition should pay a tax surcharge sufficient to fund the revitalization of mental health programs.

                Bill Hugenberg

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