The Truth will prevail, but only if we demand it from Congress!
9-11 Inside Job and Neocons Hacked 2004
LAWYERS GUNS AND MONEY
"Just Put Down That Law Suit, Pardner, and No One Gets Hurt."
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Originally published in The Guardian (
by Greg Palast
That works out at 200 per lawyer. Wade through the foaming websites of the
anti-Semites, weekend militiamen and Republicans, and it becomes clear that many
Because if there is any hope of the ceasefire that they fear, it will come out
of the barrel of a lawsuit.
And that is why a shoot-to-kill coalition in the Senate, led by Wild Bill Frist
(R-Tenn) and his simpering sidekick, Scary Harry Reid (D-Nev), voted yesterday
to grant immunity from law suits to gun makers.
First, the score. Gunshot deaths in the
unlucky ones died, including a dozen policemen by their own weapons.
In one typical case, a young man, Steven Fox, described feeling pieces of his
brain fly from his skull after a mugger shot him. He is permanently paralyzed.
But, hey, that's business for you. And what a business it is. Guns, ammo and
accessories are a $6 billion-a-year honey pot for several corporations: Glock,
Smith & Wesson, Colt and too many others.
But, the gun-o-philiacs say, what does po' widdle Smith & Wesson have to do with
a mugger who uses its gun in an unsocial manner?
This cop-out drives Elisa Barnes crazy. Barnes is the lawyer who brought the
groundbreaking lawsuit against handgun manufacturers which, for the first time,
were found negligent in abetting a criminal.
It's lawyers like Barnes -- and victims like Fox -- that the Senate went gunning
Barnes thought it was just too convenient for gun makers to blame the criminal
alone. Through investigation and statistical analysis she concluded that sales
to criminals are a much-valued - if unpublicized - market segment sought out and
provisioned by these upstanding manufacturers.
Her calculations are compelling. Gun companies dumped several million weapons
into outlets in states with few curbs on purchases, super-saturating the legal
market so that excess would flow up the "Iron Pipeline" to meet black market
Like the company that sells cigarette rolling papers in quantities far
outstripping sales of legal tobacco, gun manufacturers have a nod-and-wink
understanding of where their products end up. Their market models cannot account
for half the gun sales in loose-law states such as
Nor can industry executives fail to have noticed the 800,000 requests to them
The Fox case jury found a dozen gun makers guilty of negligent distribution. The
shooter's gun was never found. Unable to determine which company made the gun
that fired the bullet into Fox's head, the jury ordered all the makers of .25
caliber weapons in the case to pony up $5 million for Fox's care and pain.
Fox's victory burst the dam. Several hundred lawyers - including the Costanza
group, the combine of firms that mangled the tobacco industry - filed suits to
make sure the gun industry feels our pain.
the cost of gathering the wounded off the streets, and the cost of arming the municipal police force in
self-defense. The legal profession might have finally accomplished what a
The NAACP weighed in with a massive class-action suit on behalf of thousands of
the wounded and dead, based on yet another theory: product liability. I spoke to
one of their counsel, Mike Hausfeld, just after he returned from beating Hitler
Fifty years after WWII, Hausfeld's firm brought a suit against Mercedes-Benz,
Siemens, BASF and others who used slave labor from concentration and prison
camps under the Nazi regime. The defendants agreed to create a $1.2 billion
Hausfeld concedes the companies were acting under orders of the Reich, but
points out: "Contemporary industrial empires were made from those profits. In
1938 Henry Ford received a medal from the Führer, and his German plants
continued to provide Ford income through 1942. Those profits belong to the
Hitler's manufacturers finally coughed up their blood money when the defense,
"We were only taking orders," failed to impress US judges.
Glock's profits belong too its victims as well. But as soon as our President
signs the new immunity law, "We were only taking orders" (for more guns) will be
a Bush-blessed defense.
Republican Majority Leader Frist makes a big deal about being a doctor. He must
believe the Hippocratic Oath changed from, "First, do no harm," to "Shoot first,
then run for President."
It's not nice to say, but there's only one way to stop Doctor Death. In 2008, I
hope to see the headline, "Senator Frist Slain in a Hail of Ballots."
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy
Money Can Buy. Subscribe to his commentaries at www.GregPalast.com.