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Shootings: Hold the Gun Industry Accountable


A series of mass shootings over the past week have left at least 18 people dead and another 69 injured, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA). The shootings took place in Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, and Texas.


The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks shootings in the US, defines a mass shooting as a single incident in which four or more people (not counting the shooter) are shot in the same incident.


According to the GVA, there have been 243 mass shootings in 2021 alone. By comparison, there were 417 mass shootings in 2019 and 610 in 2020. Furthermore, history has shown that most mass shootings take place in the latter part of the year.


Surprised that the numbers are so high?


One reason for the number of deaths by guns in the United States is their availability. The United States is by far the most heavily armed society in the world with more guns than people – 120.5 per 100 people, according to the Geneva-based research group, Small Arms Survey. By comparison, the ratio of guns to people in Canada is 34.7 per 100, France and Germany are 19.6, and Iraq is 19.4.


Media coverage is often extensive; the aftermath becomes a shared experience nationwide. However, for every news story on the front page about another mass shooting, there are dozens of other stories of shootings – killing one, two, or three people – that are buried in later pages that we never hear about.


The events leading up to a shooting spree may not always be the same, but the shock, horror, prayers, questions of firearm safety, and eventual calls for action never change. Yet, little has changed despite all the discussion of what should be done to prevent future tragedies.


Why?


Because the gun rights issue continues to be one of our country’s most divisive. Supporters say firearms are important for self-defense and hunting; gun ownership is constitutionally protected by the Second Amendment. Critics counter that America’s permissive approach leads to the deaths of thousands of innocent people every year.


The gun industry is one of the most dangerous industries in America, the only industry that exempts manufacturers from basic accountability. Victims of gun violence are extremely limited when it comes to holding gun manufacturers liable in court. If you think it’s tough to hold a cop accountable in our criminal or civil justice systems, try using the justice system to hold the gun industry accountable.


"The job of any president is to protect the American people, whether Congress acts or not," said President Biden after the recent mass shooting at an Atlanta spa. "I'm going to use all the resources at my disposal to keep the American people safe from gun violence. But there is much more that Congress can do to help that effort."


Biden went on to say, “This is the only outfit that is exempt from being sued. If I get one thing on my list — (if) the Lord came down and said, 'Joe, you get one of these' — give me that one," Biden said at a ceremony at the Rose Garden.


Biden was referring to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which protects firearm manufacturers and dealers from being held accountable when crimes have been committed using their products. The law was passed during the George W. Bush administration.


Recently, one of my Zachary Blake legal thrillers, Betrayal High, focused on the tragedy of mass school shootings. In the novel, I call out Bush’s restrictive legislation and criticize its negative impact on our citizens’ rights to pursue justice in gun related tragedies. No industry should be above the law. No industry should be permitted to misrepresent known dangers involving the use or misuse of their products.


Ask the tobacco or drug industries how that type of behavior worked out for them. But it is somehow different for the gun industry; it gets a free pass from a congress and a president who no longer govern our country.


Striking down this law will not, by itself, prevent mass shooting events. They cannot be prevented by one stroke of a politician’s pen. However, ensuring that the gun industry – like others – is held accountable for knowingly distributing dangerous products may change the way it conducts its business.


President Biden will sign legislation repealing this draconian legislation, but Congress must act. And, if it refuses, it is time for We the People to elect men and women who will stand up for victims of gun violence.


Mark M. Bello, a trial lawyer, is the author of “Betrayal in Black” and other ‘ripped from the headlines’ Zachary Blake Social Justice Legal Thrillers available on Amazon.com and other online booksellers. For more information, please visit www.markmbello.com.

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Bob Gatty
Bob Gatty
03 jun. 2021

Glad NotFakeNews published this article on accountability for gun violence! As a retired educator, I often say I am so glad I retired from teaching. Never, ever did I think I would be teaching children how and where to run in a school building (and stressed that my students kept up with me) and practicing for whether to exit or to stay in place. I did this in my last 2-3 years of teaching. We really practiced this in my district! Now, our legislators are not even interested in passing legislation that will limit access to military style weaponry which is very often used in school shootings. -- Verlene DeWitt, via email.

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