In Democracy by Decree, recently published by Yale University Press, New York Law School professors Ross Sandler and David Schoenbrod show how the plaintiff's bar and judges have used consent decrees to take government away from elected officials.
Two recent books by the Manhattan Institute's Walter K. Olson and the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre show how class action lawyers are trying to use the courts to take away our constitutional rights.
In The Rule of Lawyers (St. Martin's Press, 2003), Mr. Olson describes how left-wing gun control fanatics used wealthy class action lawyers and private foundations in an effort to destroy U.S. gun manufacturers. The lawyers invented new concepts of liability and blamed gun manufacturers for the misuse of guns by individuals.
Mr. Olson notes that the twisted argument of the suits would hold match companies responsible for the actions of arsonists.
The suits, of course, were not designed to win a legal point, but to bankrupt gun manufacturers, many of which are small and family owned, with legal fees defending against many separate lawsuits filed in behalf of many cities.
The goal of the lawsuits was a settlement that would create a five-member politically unaccountable "commission" to take over the gun industry.
Mr. Olson notes the irony of cities, which routinely sell thousands of used police weapons on the gun market, fronting for lawsuits against gun manufacturers for selling their wares to federally licensed dealers. Mr. Olson exposes the dishonesty of representing anti-gun billionaires, such as George Soros, and billionaire class action lawyers, whose trophy investments include sports teams, as "underdogs" in their onslaught against small, thinly financed family-owned gun manufacturers.
Gullible Americans are not rare. All that is required for a small wealthy elite to destroy the Second Amendment is a gullible jury and a judge who permits a class action suit to expropriate the powers of legislators.
Wealthy gun control fanatics are in the forefront of the powerful lobbies determined to block any tort reform that would prevent private groups from assuming the powers of lawmakers. In Guns, Freedom and Terrorism (WND Books, 2003), Wayne LaPierre describes the attempt underway to destroy the concept of personal responsibility and to hold innocent third parties liable for criminal acts.
We might think this can never happen in America, but Mr. LaPierre's report in the May 2003 American Rifleman shows that victims of criminals are now held responsible for the actions of the criminals who victimized them.
In 1992 two teenage males stole three handguns from a gun show. Next the teenagers went on a rampage breaking into cars. Stealing one, they amused themselves by sliding it into garbage cans. When they lost control and crashed, the person who approached the car to see if they were injured was shot twice for his compassion.
A normal person might think it is clear enough that the teenagers themselves are responsible for their crime spree. However, in 1996 an Ohio court decided that it was the gun show promoter!
In 2002 Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center, an anti-gun group, told the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection that tort reform would interfere with the ability to hold innocent people responsible for the actions of criminals.
It is important for the American people, she claimed, for decisions such as the Ohio one to flourish.
New York's Sullivan Act, the original gun control law, was passed in response to the criminal lobby in New York's Red Hook district. Robbers objected to the right of their intended victims to carry concealed weapons and succeeded in getting the right outlawed.
It is equally clear today that criminals are the only beneficiary of gun control laws. In his book Mr. LaPierre documents the results of Great Britain's total ban on handguns, rifles, pump-action and semi-automatic shotguns.
Violent crime in Britain has exploded. A disarmed public is at the mercy of well-armed thugs. The British people are robbed, raped and murdered in their homes and offices, on their streets, and in their subways and public parks.
The British experience proves beyond any shadow of doubt the truth of the NRA's point:
"When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns."
Paul Craig Roberts is the author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow's Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.
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