- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Seven in 10 American voters do not support Hillary Clinton’s position that crime victims should be allowed to sue firearm manufacturers and retailers if they made or sold the gun lawfully, according to a new poll.

Seventy-two percent of those surveyed believe criminals who commit the crimes should be punished, not law-abiding manufactures and retailers who sell the product, according to a survey released by the National Shooting Sports Foundation released Monday. Only 23 percent agreed with Mrs. Clinton’s stance, with 4 percent unsure.

“The concept that an entire industry should not be held liable for the criminal or negligent use of products made and sold legally clearly makes sense to the overwhelming majority of the American public, as these poll results demonstrate” Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

“We commissioned this poll to help determine where Americans stand. They have told us. Now, it’s time for politicians to demonstrate that they have some respect for the good sense of the people and to stop vilifying the hard-working people of an entire industry and exploiting real tragedy that is the result of criminal conduct,” he said.

Hillary Clinton has made gun-manufacturer liability a centerpiece of her campaign, frequently attacking rival Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders for not supporting the measure. In Connecticut, the site of one of the worst shootings in American history, she used gun control as a main rallying cry for her candidacy.

Mrs. Clinton has called Mr. Sanders’ stance on the liability issue “unimaginable,” pointing out it’s one of the largest contrasts between them.

“That he would place gun manufacturers’ rights and immunity from liability against the parents of the children killed at Sandy Hook is just unimaginable to me,” Clinton said in an MSNBC interview.

Mrs. Clinton’s argument is akin to holding a car manufacturer liable if its owner commits a hit and run, or retail-store Target for selling knives if one is used to stab someone. Furthermore, the Protection in Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, of which Mrs. Clinton is referring, expressly does allow lawsuits based on knowing violations of state or federal law related to gun sales.

Without the provision, many gun shop owners would be driven out of business due to frivolous lawsuits and an individual’s constitutional right to exercise their second-amendment would undoubtedly come under attack.

Mr. Sanders gets it — as does the majority of the American public. It’s just common sense.

“I don’t believe it is appropriate that that gun shop owner … be held accountable and sued,” Mr. Sanders said at the last Democratic debate, adding that “in rural areas all over this country, if a gun shop owner sells a weapon legally to somebody,” the store owner shouldn’t be held responsible for what is later done with the weapon.

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