Bernie Sanders is correct

I’ll say this up front: “military weaponry” is a misnomer.

The exception to this is very, very limited, and one that many can readily recognize: fully-automatic rifles. These were clearly manufactured with a military intent in mind. But select-fire rifles are largely unavailable to anyone outside the military. Obtaining one requires going through the months-long NFA process, which includes a background check more extensive than required for my concealed carry permit, and local law enforcement (either county sheriff or local police chief) has veto authority.

And even if you obtain one, transporting the firearm even across county lines can be a hassle. There are so many restrictions on select-fire and full-automatic firearms that most won’t bother with it. I’m sure many would want similar restrictions on semi-automatic firearms. In fact, I know many want such restrictions. Just look at the number of people who keep citing Australia as a viable model with our Second Amendment.


Mark and Jackie Barden wrote a response letter to Bernie Sanders published in the Washington Post in which they explain their reasoning behind joining a lawsuit against firearms manufacturers. The Bardens are the parents to the late Daniel Barden, one of the 20 child victims at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012.

Bernie Sanders, candidate for the Democrat nomination and independent Senator from Vermont, said this during a recent debate with Hillary Clinton:

Well, this is what I say, if I understand it — and correct me if I’m wrong. If you go to a gun store and you legally purchase a gun, and then, three days later, if you go out and start killing people, is the point of this lawsuit to hold the gun shop owner or the manufacturer of that gun liable?

If that is the point, I have to tell you I disagree. I disagree because you hold people — in terms of this liability thing, where you hold manufacturers’ liability is if they understand that they’re selling guns into an area that — it’s getting into the hands of criminals, of course they should be held liable.

But if they are selling a product to a person who buys it legally, what you’re really talking about is ending gun manufacturing in America. I don’t agree with that.

And according to the Bardens, the Senator is incorrect:

We have never suggested that Remington should be held liable simply for manufacturing the AR-15. In fact, we believe that Remington and other manufacturers’ production of the AR-15 is essential for our armed forces and law enforcement. But Remington is responsible for its calculated choice to sell that same weapon to the public, and for emphasizing the military and assaultive capacities of the weapon in its marketing to civilians.

Again, “military weapons” is largely a misnomer.

If you want to be technical, I have two “military weapons”: a Glock 19 and a Mosin Nagant. The original design purpose behind the Glock 17 pistol — from which is derived their other lines of pistols including my Glock 19 — is in response to a call by the Austrian military for a new weapon. One of the requirements established in the RFP (request for proposal) is that the firearm should meet or exceed NATO specifications for the 9×19 parabellum round.

The Russians designed the Mosin Nagant rifle in the late 1800s, and its simplicity and effectiveness made it the go-to rifle for many militaries in Asia. Today the rifle is largely a surplus relic which can be obtained for a very inexpensive price — provided you’re willing to take on the cleaning that is necessary to make the rifle serviceable.

So by the focus on “military and assaultive capacities”, I have to wonder if their aim is to remove from the civilian market any firearm that was designed to military or police specifications. That would, in effect, remove almost every firearm from the civilian market. And I’m not being facetious or fallacious on that either. No firearm exists today that is not derived from some battlefield necessity. There is no firearm on the market today that is not derived from some military need or military specification.

The very popular 1911 pistol is a hundred-plus year-old design made by Colt Arms for the United States Army. The Beretta 92 pistol is the civilian variant of the Beretta M9, which is the current standard issue firearm in the United States Armed Forces, supplanting the 1911 about thirty years ago. The military is currently looking for a new firearm to replace the M9.

Smith and Wesson (S&W) has designed several firearms with military and police focus. After the infamous 1986 Miami FBI shootout, the FBI partnered S&W to develop the .40 S&W round and pistols to support it. The round was largely adopted by Federal, State, and local police agencies all across the country, and it is also a popular round for concealed carry (the 9mm is the most popular round). Though S&W developed the round and the first firearms to support it, the Glock 22 is the pistol more likely to be deployed in police service.

And with rifles, most of what exists today is derived from military development.

The need within the military to “reach out and touch” the enemy from a long distance led to developments that are highly beneficial to civilian hunters and target enthusiasts for similar, peaceful reasons. Developments in body styles for rifles to improve platform stability, thereby increasing shooter accuracy and endurance, that provide for the “military style” bodies that give us the M4 and other military rifles developed in Europe gave us the body style we see in the AR-15. The body style became popular in part because of its association with the military, but also because the body style is effective as a shooting platform.

And it’s a body style for which you can also thank the Russians, since they developed it first, though it’s been improved upon immensely. The AR-15’s popularity is more in its modularity than its look.

But again, I have to wonder if the aim of their lawsuit is to remove from civilian circulation any firearm that has a military link. I mentioned the Glock earlier, but no one tried to sue Glock after Jared Lee Loughner employed the Glock 19 in his rampage that left six dead, including 9 year-old Christina Taylor Green, in an attempt to assassinate Gabrielle Giffords. Indeed Christina’s parents have just as much incentive to sue Glock as the Barden’s in their lawsuit against Remington and the Phillips’ in their lawsuit against Lucky Gunner.

Yet the Greens haven’t sued Glock. None of the other victims or families have sued Glock either. Or the retailer that sold Loughner the Glock. Rather curious. After all, as mentioned previously, the Glock was developed with a “military” purpose.

Indeed the idea to sue a manufacturer or seller for the illegal use of a legal product seems to be a very new development. And since it has the potential to sink firearms manufacture in the United States with fear of litigation, anti-gun liberals have taken it to heart as part of their political platforms. If they can’t ban firearms, then go after the firearms and ammunition manufacturers and sellers via fear of litigation. And as the Courts have provided one hell of a roadblock with DC v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago, they need to find a way to sink the firearms industry without being so blatant.

So in the end, Bernie Sanders was actually correct. The aim of the lawsuit, based on the Barden’s own words, is to basically end civilian firearms manufacture in the United States by sticking on them the fear of litigation:

Remington and the other defendants’ choices allowed an elementary school to be transformed into a battlefield. Our case seeks nothing more than fair accountability for those choices.

No actually it doesn’t. The lawsuit is based entirely on emotion, not reason. The words chosen in the response letter show this.

And I’ll pose the question: Would you have sued an auto manufacturer if your son’s life had been taken via a car accident involving a high-performance vehicle?