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(CA Jury finds) Gun maker liable in shooting of boy
WorldNetDaily ^ | May 10, 2003 | Jon Dougherty

Posted on 05/10/2003 7:51:36 AM PDT by FairOpinion

A California jury has found a firearms manufacturer partially liable in the accidental injury and crippling of a young boy in a unique court ruling against a gun maker.

An Alameda County jury found Bryco Arms largely responsible for the injury of Brandon Maxfield, now 16, of Willits, nine years ago, the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday.

According to the paper, Brandon was shot in the jaw April 6, 1994. He and a 12-year-old relative were being watched by a family friend who was living with them in their home temporarily.

The Chronicle reported the 12-year-old believed some adult had asked him to get the gun out. When he did, according to the defense attorney in the case, the 20-year-old baby sitter – Larry William Moreford II – took the pistol from the boy. In the process of unloading it, he shot Brandon in the jaw.

"He was trying to unload the gun," said Richard Ruggieri, Brandon's attorney. "In order to do that, he had to put it on 'fire.' The gun slipped in his hand and it went off. This was not a 'child playing with a gun' type of situation."

Ruggieri said the family was "pleased but reserved" about the $50.9 million verdict, while acknowledging it could be some time before Brandon sees any money, if ever.

The jury must first decide what part of the damages each defendant is responsible to pay, said Ruggieri. Two of the defendants in the case are Brandon's parents, as well as Moreford.

Also throwing the verdict in doubt is the probability of an appeal. Assuming Brandon wins that appeal, he will still have to collect the money from defendants, which could also be a problem because of a bill passed last month by the U.S. House of Representatives protecting gun makers from liability.

If passed into law in its current form, the bill – backed by the National Rifle Association – would eliminate almost all civil liability for gun makers, as WorldNetDaily reported earlier.

Ruggieri said the bill may not affect Brandon's case, but he admitted he was concerned about its ramifications.

"We're certainly concerned with it," Ruggieri said. "It would be a human tragedy if something like that would block something like this."

And, the defense attorney told the paper, the case isn't about attacking gun rights.

"This trial is not about the Second Amendment or the right to bear arms," he said. "This is just a case about Brandon."


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: bang; california; gunlaws; guns; jury; liable; manufacturer; thechildren
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I guess the stupidity of juries knows no bounds. When are they going to start suing knife manufacturers every time some idiot's hand slips and cuts themselves, or hammer manufacturers, when people hit their thumbs, not to mention car manufacturers every time some idiot causes an accident, as a result of driver negligence.
1 posted on 05/10/2003 7:51:36 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: FairOpinion
"Never point the gun at something you aren't willing to destroy."
2 posted on 05/10/2003 8:01:41 AM PDT by coloradan
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To: FairOpinion
"...or hammer manufacturers, when people hit their thumbs...

I was about to tee off on this article, but your post changed my mind.

I'm going to be rich! I'm going to be rich!! I'm going to be fabulously RICH!!!.....

3 posted on 05/10/2003 8:02:23 AM PDT by daylate-dollarshort
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To: FairOpinion
it could be some time before Brandon sees any money, if ever.

You can safely bet Brandon's lawyer will see money, some way, some how. This isn't about Brandon, this is about money, that magical paper substance that bestows the grace of justice upon it's possessors, minus a small transaction cost.

4 posted on 05/10/2003 8:06:09 AM PDT by Reeses
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To: FairOpinion
.
5 posted on 05/10/2003 8:06:50 AM PDT by Publius6961 (Californians are as dumm as a sack of rocks)
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To: FairOpinion
What kind of gun requires you to put its safety in 'fire' position to unload?

If that part of it is true, it's little wonder the jury decided to punish such a stupid gunmaker. Not that I would have voted for it on the jury since no one should be allowed to even handle a gun without understanding that you never point it at anything you don't intend to shoot. Especially another person.

It's always been said that these lawsuits are frivolous because the gunmaker was not at fault in producing a weapon that fired. But in this case, if the facts presented are correct, there would be a strong case that putting the safety on 'fire' to unload could result in a misfiring sooner or later.

I'd really like to know if the gun had to be put on 'fire' in order to unload. This sounds pretty crazy.

One has to wonder if the family has concocted this story just for the lawsuit too.
6 posted on 05/10/2003 8:09:27 AM PDT by George W. Bush
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To: FairOpinion
I'm totally opposed to liability lawsuits against firearms manufacturers for their products being used in the commission of crimes, but on the other hand, where there's a documented safety defect:

http://www.firearmsid.com/Recalls/FA_Recalls%202.htm#BRYCO%20ARMS,%20MODEL%2038
7 posted on 05/10/2003 8:10:58 AM PDT by Marauder (They talk of my drinking but never my thirst.)
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To: Reeses
The problem is really not the lawyers, but the idiot jurors and judges. If the jurors and judges would stop awarding huge awards to anyone who sues, no matter how frivolous the lawsuit, the shyster lawyers chasint the "deep pockets" would be out of business. Lawyers keep bringing these lawsuits, because it works for them.

I think we should revamp the judicial and jury system.

Just look at the tobacco awards, and now they are suing fast food places, no matter what stupid things people do, they find someone else to blame and sue.
8 posted on 05/10/2003 8:11:30 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: Reeses
You can safely bet Brandon's lawyer will see money, some way, some how.

You have that absolutely right.
9 posted on 05/10/2003 8:11:58 AM PDT by tet68 (Jeremiah 51:24 ..."..Before your eyes I will repay Babylon for all the wrong they have done in Zion")
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To: Reeses
NRA member/Attorney weighing in here ...

My understanding, from what I have been able to read about this case, is that one had to take the safety off before the gun could be unloaded, and the plaintiffs contended this was a design defect making the gun unreasonably unsafe.

One analogy I have heard is to a lawn mower manufacturer making a lawnmower that you could only change the blades on it while the gas-powered motor was on (which would undoubtedly make it more dangerous).

I believe the vast majority of these lawsuits against gun manufacturers are completely frivolous, but I also allow for the possibility that some guns may be poorly designed or manufactured, making them even more dangerous than they are inherently.

IMHO

10 posted on 05/10/2003 8:17:37 AM PDT by PackerBoy
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To: FairOpinion
The gun manufacturer should not be blamed for the stupidity of the baby sitter. Whenever someone is handling a firearm, they must assume it is LOADED. Furthermore, THEY MUST NOT POINT GUN AT SOMETHING THEY DO NOT WISH TO SHOOT.

It is very common for firearms to require the safety to be off, when clearing the action.
11 posted on 05/10/2003 8:18:01 AM PDT by punster
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To: Marauder
http://www.firearmsid.com/Recalls/FA_Recalls%202.htm#BRYCO%20ARMS,%20MODEL%2038
"Do not use the box until it has been replaced by Browning. Failure to follow these instructions could result in injury or death to yourself or others."

Uhhh - injury or death from a box???
Or am I missing something here? How does a box jump up, pull out the gun and try to shoot you?
12 posted on 05/10/2003 8:25:07 AM PDT by steplock ( http://www.spadata.com)
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To: Marauder
Thanks for the link. I wonder if this is the model...


BRYCO ARMS

Model Jennings Nine,

9mm LUGER caliber Semiautomatic Pistol

These pistols may create an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS CONDITION and a POTENTIAL FOR SERIOUS INJURY by firing without pulling the trigger.

During the testing of a Bryco Arms, Jennings Nine pistol by a forensic firearms examiner it was noted that it would fire upon release of the thumb safety and spontaneously fire in a FULL AUTO MODE on an inconsistent bases. When loaded with the manual thumb safety in the "safe" position, if the trigger of the submitted firearm has been pulled stiffly a few times, the firearm will discharge when the thumb safety is moved to the "fire" position.

Disassembly of the pistol revealed some wear/damage to the sear which allows slight downward movement when the trigger is pulled. It appears due to the wear/damage the sear/striker engagement is reduced allowing the striker to override the sear after the thumb safety is released.

MANUALLY UNLOADING THIS PISTOL MAY BE VERY DANGEROUS SINCE IT COULD DISCHARGE DURING THIS PROCEDURE.

Source:


13 posted on 05/10/2003 8:26:06 AM PDT by IoCaster
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To: PackerBoy
Something is very fishy about this case. Note, that "12 year old "believed" that "some adult" asked him to bring the gun". Excuse me, seems like the only adult around was the baby sitter. Did he ask the kid to bring the gun? Then, obviously not knowing much about guns, he fiddled with it, and accidentally shot the kid. Just exactly whose fault is this? I can't see any guilty party here except the babysitter.
14 posted on 05/10/2003 8:28:25 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: IoCaster
This one does sound like a manufacturing defect and the manufacturer should recall these guns.
15 posted on 05/10/2003 8:31:25 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: FairOpinion
Why wouldn't the "adult" just get the gun themselves? Why was the babysitter even messing around with the gun in the first place? If they were so incompetent, why didn't they just leave the gun alone? You're right, something doesn't add up here.

BTW, the most likely outcome is that the lawyers will pocket millions of dollars and the kid will get a coupon for $100 off future medical care.

16 posted on 05/10/2003 8:34:00 AM PDT by boop
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To: PackerBoy
A California jury has found a firearms manufacturer partially liable

Strange article. No amount of award listed. No manufacturer listed. Doesn't tell the model of the gun. Heck, doesn't even tell us if it was a revolver or semi-automatic pistol. I assume it was a semi-auto but it doesn't tell us if a bullet was in the chamber while Babysitter Man was trying to unload it while pointing it at the boy's head (obviously, there was no other place to point it).

This reporting is just plain shoddy.

Gun manufacturers are as liable as anyone else for product manufacture lawsuits. The new law is unlikely to protect them from a defective design lawsuit.

But I have reconsidered my earlier remarks too. If the manufacturer had forced you to put the safety on 'safe' in order to reload/unload/change clips, then it would have been unsuitable for police and (I think) some target shooting competitions.

Actually, as I've thought about it, it seems to me that the family should only have a case against the babysitter. Judging by the article, he was forced to put the safety on 'fire' to unload it so there is no way he could not have known that the gun was prepared to fire. So I've decided they have no case against the manufacturer at all unless the safety on/off was somehow inadequately marked for clarity.

I'd like to hear more from you and FR's other legal eagles on the liability issues when we get an adequate report on the case's specifics.
17 posted on 05/10/2003 8:39:17 AM PDT by George W. Bush
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To: PackerBoy
Yeah, the present House bill would immunize gun-makers from traditional products-liability actions. Then we'd see guns with no safeties at all.

Larry Eldridge's _Trials of a Philadelphia Lawyer_, which I read in law school 30 years ago, mentioned one of his cases where a hunter's DOG shot him. He had put his rifle on safe and laid it against a fence while he crossed the fence. His dog knocked the rifle over while jumping the fence and it discharged.

The rifle was bagged by the ambulance crew. Eldridge filed suit for the hunter and the rifle was delivered to the parties' expert witnesses for disassembly. The rifle manufacturer defendant's representative suggested the rifle be placed on a white sheet before disassembly. A little speck came out of the safety when they opened it up and the rifle guy said, "Aha!"

It turned out that the safety had been jammed by some undetonated powder. The experts agreed on how the safety design made that possible, the case was settled and the safety was redesigned.

And no other hunters were injured that way.

The House bill removes all incentives for gun manufacturers to produce safe weapons.

I suppose they'll do the same for car manufacturers next.

18 posted on 05/10/2003 8:40:12 AM PDT by Thud
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To: IoCaster
Yeah, after reading that webpage, I think FReepers had better avoid those Bryco guns. What a list of safety problems! Sounds like they've made some very shoddy firearms.
19 posted on 05/10/2003 8:41:15 AM PDT by George W. Bush
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To: FairOpinion
I agree that it sounds fishy. Often we do not get a fulla count of court cases.

Everyone laments the outrageous McDonald's coffee cup verdict, but few heard about McDonald's own internal memos saying that their coffee was much hotter than it needed to be, and that many people had reported burns from spilling coffee, epspecially in their laps in the drive-thru (usually when the lids are not properly affixed). However others at McD's noted that they can squeeze more drinkable coffee out of fewer coffee beans (translating into higher sales and profits) if they make it at a higher temperature. BTW, the plaintiff received the equivalent of one day's coffee profits from McD's sales. Needless to say they are still in business. I wonder of their coffee is still as hot?

20 posted on 05/10/2003 8:43:29 AM PDT by PackerBoy
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To: boop
"Why wouldn't the "adult" just get the gun themselves? "

The article said that the babysitter was a " a family friend who was living with them in their home temporarily", so probably didn't know where the gun was.

From the little info in the article, it sure sounds like the adult, who was a 20 year old IRRESPONSIBLE adult, obviously, was curious and asked the kid to get the gun.

And of course, suppose the kid just went and got the gun. What is the babysitter for, except to WATCH the kid. First of all he shouldn't have even let the kid get the gun, or then immediately lock it up, or put it away, NOT to fiddle with it. I don't buy this unloading story.

I think the defense attorney should have followed up in his questioning on the kid's statement that an adult asked him to bring the guy. Looks like another case of who had the best attorney.
21 posted on 05/10/2003 8:45:06 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: Thud
...Then we'd see guns with no safeties at all.

My Glock 23 has no external safety. No Glock that I know of does. They have a few minor internal safeties. But when it's loaded, it's ready to shoot. Glock isn't the only one with these DAO (double-action-only) designs that have no safety. Most CCW weapons are like this now, I think.
22 posted on 05/10/2003 8:45:11 AM PDT by George W. Bush
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To: FairOpinion
What can you say about jurors (registered voters), who return avowed socialists, Pete Stark and Barbara Lee to Congress every two years?
23 posted on 05/10/2003 8:46:43 AM PDT by old school
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To: George W. Bush
The manufacturer is listed:

"An Alameda County jury found Bryco Arms"
24 posted on 05/10/2003 8:46:56 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: FairOpinion
Gun makes CAN make defective products and should be help liable for them. I'm not sure if that's the case with this one though the information given would seem to indicate it (put it on fire to unload?!). This isn't like somebody sueing the gun manufacturer because their son got blown away while he was robbing a liquor store, this is a normal product liability case and should be judged on the merits of the product.
25 posted on 05/10/2003 8:49:15 AM PDT by discostu (A cow don't make ham)
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To: PackerBoy
Revolvers don't have safety switches so I'm curious why revolver makers aren't sued for such an "unsafe" design. I know manufacturers often remove useful features from products because lawyers exploit operator error. It's a shame. Our current legal system does not lend itself to making the world a better place.
26 posted on 05/10/2003 8:51:56 AM PDT by Reeses
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To: George W. Bush
I found the "original (?)" article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Jury awards $51 million to boy in accidental shooting; legislation could affect outcome

Thursday, May 8, 2003

(05-08) 06:38 PDT OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) --

A jury awarded $51 million in damages to boy who was accidentally shot and paralyzed in 1994, but the verdict may not stand because of pending legislation that would protect gun manufacturers from liability.

The jury awarded damages to Brandon Maxfield on Wednesday, two weeks after concluding that gun maker Bryco Arms was partially liable when he was shot in the jaw with a .38-caliber handgun that a family friend was trying to unload.

But it is unclear whether the verdict will survive. The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed a bill to protect gun makers and distributors from being sued for damages; the bill is now awaiting Senate action.

Two weeks ago, the jury found Bryco 10 percent liable after concluding the company manufactured a defective firearm. To unload the weapon, a user must first unlock the trigger lock -- a dangerous and flawed system, according to the boy's attorney, Richard Ruggieri. Calls to Bryco went unanswered.

The gun's distributors were found 30 percent liable.

The jury said one-third of blame for the shooting falls on Maxfield's parents for leaving a loaded weapon in their Willits home. Jurors also found the shooter, family friend William Moreford, 20 percent liable.

If the award survives, each party may have to pay its percentage of the liability.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2003/05/08/national0938EDT0549.DTL


27 posted on 05/10/2003 8:52:30 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: FairOpinion
"""I guess the stupidity of juries knows no bounds"""

And with a little help from the schools there will be more stupidity in the jury box.
28 posted on 05/10/2003 8:53:58 AM PDT by just me
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To: FairOpinion
We can always SUE ranchers that breed cows for cholestoral related heart attacks or maybe even SUE thoroughbred breeders for MAKING people GAMBLE their life savings at the race track. Don't fret the lawyers of the world and the greed of their clients will make these seemingly impossible events to eventually occur.
29 posted on 05/10/2003 8:54:55 AM PDT by PISANO
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To: steplock
Damn. I bought a Jennings Nine in 2000 and have put a good 300 rounds through it. Seeing that link makes me never want to fire it again.
30 posted on 05/10/2003 8:55:45 AM PDT by creeping death
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To: Reeses
"Our current legal system does not lend itself to making the world a better place. "

---

I think this is the crux of the matter: the entire legal system is flawed, I think we should dump it and start over.
31 posted on 05/10/2003 9:03:11 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: tet68
Let's see. The kids parents are defendants and the parents are saying they doubt if Brandon will ever see any of the money. So, I guess the parents have already decided not to pay up. Is this a stupid case or what.
32 posted on 05/10/2003 9:09:11 AM PDT by Terry Mross
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To: creeping death
I don't know Jennings, but firearms are not toys. If you need one, and you're not familiar with them, then seek-out someone who is, for advice before you buy. Buying a firearm is not like shopping Wal-Mart for some cheap, made-in-China (or L.A.), knock-off of any ordinary product. Inexpensive, well-made firearms can still be purchased in this country. However, firearms should never be handled by the uninitiated, period!
33 posted on 05/10/2003 9:11:18 AM PDT by old school
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To: FairOpinion
I'm going blind. The dangers of bachelorhood apparently.
34 posted on 05/10/2003 9:11:41 AM PDT by George W. Bush
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To: FairOpinion
Weird. It only adds up to 96.33%, it seems, at least from the article. There's 3.66% of the blame that is unaccounted for.

Bryco, the gunmaker, was held the least responsible. I would guess the family won't have to pay their minor son and will sign away his rights to sue both them and the babysitter before the boy reaches legal age. So, it will be 5.1 million for Bryco and 15.3 million for the distributors. Of the 20.4 million, the lawyer will probably grab at least 10 million, maybe more.

In other words, the parties least responsible, the gunmaker and the distributors, will pay all the award.

The parents (33%) and the distributros were most to blame, according to the jury. But why is the distributor to be considered so guilty? That makes no sense at all unless the distributors removed safety warnings and instructions or somehow modified the gun. But none of that makes any sense either.
35 posted on 05/10/2003 9:23:37 AM PDT by George W. Bush
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To: Reeses
This isn't about Brandon, this is about money, that magical paper substance that bestows the grace of justice upon it's possessors, minus a small transaction cost.

Some lawyers give their Profession a very bad name, esp. this case...we need tort reform...lawyers=liberals=scum

36 posted on 05/10/2003 9:30:36 AM PDT by skinkinthegrass (Just because your paranoid,doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. :)
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To: George W. Bush
"I'd really like to know if the gun had to be put on 'fire' in order to unload. This sounds pretty crazy."

Start thinking out of the box! Most people when asked about unloading a weapon instantly think about removing the cartridges from the rear of the weapon manually. But. . . what if you are one of those individuals who intends to remove the bullets from the case, and then let the extractor remove the case for you.

If the handler of the weapon falls into the later classification, then maybe the gun was functioning as designed, and there was a real need to place the safety in fire position.

What do you think? Accidental death or Murder in the first degree?

Semper Fi

37 posted on 05/10/2003 9:44:55 AM PDT by An Old Man (USMC 1956 1960)
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To: An Old Man
But. . . what if you are one of those individuals who intends to remove the bullets from the case, and then let the extractor remove the case for you.

Sorry. I'm just not that imaginative. My idea of unloading a gun is to fire all the bullets in it. But I'm kind of simplistic about such things.
38 posted on 05/10/2003 9:48:10 AM PDT by George W. Bush
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To: FairOpinion
... or hammer manufacturers, when people hit their thumbs ...

Not really a relevant example. It would be more appropriate to use the example of a hammer with an improperly attached head having the head fly off during normal use and injure someone standing nearby.

39 posted on 05/10/2003 9:53:30 AM PDT by templar
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To: templar
There is no evidence, at least not from the article, that the gun was defective.
40 posted on 05/10/2003 9:56:12 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: FairOpinion
"partially liable in the accidental injury and crippling "

"shot Brandon in the jaw. "

crippling/jaw? darn guns...

Audio

41 posted on 05/10/2003 9:59:07 AM PDT by hoot2
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To: George W. Bush
"But why is the distributor to be considered so guilty? "

----

Because they had "deep pockets"?

I think their reasoning was probably that the distributors a) shouldn't have sold them a "defective" gun and/or b) they should have warned them that playing with loaded guns is dangerous and the gun can discharge and shoot someone.

PS. You shouldn't go around admitting you are a bachelor -- you'll have ladies making passes at you. ;)
42 posted on 05/10/2003 10:06:26 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: George W. Bush
"Weird. It only adds up to 96.33%, it seems, at least from the article. There's 3.66% of the blame that is unaccounted for. "

mrs bill klinton put 3.66% blame on the vast right-wing conspiracy

43 posted on 05/10/2003 10:07:57 AM PDT by hoot2
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To: FairOpinion
the entire legal system is flawed, I think we should dump it and start over.

Our system goes back to William the Conqueror in 1066. You really think we should throw out our thousand year history of rule by Law and start from scratch? Maybe not a bad idea though, the fastest biggest and meanest guns could rule without any restraint. I would count on myself as being among them, of course. I kinda like that idea. Mad Max at the thunderdome on steroids.

44 posted on 05/10/2003 10:09:19 AM PDT by templar
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To: hoot2

See article in post 27:

"boy who was accidentally shot and paralyzed in 1994" ,

"he was shot in the jaw"


How does a shot in the jaw paralizes someone?
45 posted on 05/10/2003 10:11:14 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: FairOpinion
There is no evidence, at least not from the article, that the gun was defective.

The defect, in this case, would be in the design. Like a car that would require the emergency brake to be released before starting, but still would start in drive or reverse. Starting it in gear would still be the operators fault, but the requirement for releasing the brake would amplify any negative results of doing so and be a contributory factor in any accidents. Had the saftey not been required to be off before unloading a loaded gun it would be entirely the operators fault.

46 posted on 05/10/2003 10:15:29 AM PDT by templar
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To: templar
"Weird!" None of my revolvers have a safety - they're always in "fire" mode. My DAO (double-action-only)9-mm Kel-tec works the same way. I've unloaded those guns many time, and never had an unintended discharge while unloading.
47 posted on 05/10/2003 10:26:18 AM PDT by Woodworker
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To: Woodworker
I've unloaded those guns many time, and never had an unintended discharge while unloading.

The only unintended discharge I've ever had was on a used .22 that had been tinkered with sometime in it's past. Pulling the trigger while the safety was on left trigger disengaged and only the saftey holding the sear from movement. Taking the saftey off resulted in a discharge. It discharged while testing the weapon after purchasing it and the discharge went safely down range.

I am a knowelegable gun handler. Had the pawn shop I bought this from sold it to someone not so knowelegable, and the purchaser had then discharged it in his home or other public area, both the pawn the shop and the gunsmith that the pawn shop had check out it's used guns would have been surely held liable for any injuries.

When an item is sold to the general public, without regard for whether the purchasers are knowelegable of proper useage and hanlding techniques, the liability is different than if sold to, say, a military or a police department with strict handling and inspection procedures.

48 posted on 05/10/2003 10:41:28 AM PDT by templar
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To: George W. Bush
What kind of gun requires you to put its safety in 'fire' position to unload?

Many do. Oftentimes for some reason the mechanism is designed so that the safety locks the action in the fully-closed position. Perhaps someone can explain the reasoning behind this.

49 posted on 05/10/2003 12:58:56 PM PDT by supercat (TAG--you're it!)
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To: George W. Bush
What kind of gun requires you to put its safety in 'fire' position to unload?

Actually, quite a few... Many firearms have safeties that not only lock the sear and/or trigger, but also the action as well. One that comes immediately to mind are the Colt 1911 pistol (when the safety is on, you can't retract the slide).

Mark

50 posted on 05/10/2003 3:08:29 PM PDT by MarkL
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