Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Senate Moves to Shield Gun Industry

Senate Moves to Shield Gun Industry: "WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans on Tuesday moved the National Rifle Association's top priority ahead of a $491 billion defense bill, setting up a vote on legislation to shield firearms manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits over gun crimes."

Put your Second Amendment prejudices to one side. Try to overlook the fact that the Congress has far more important things to do than to protect gun manufacturers. The important point is this:

The proposed law is bad economics! A free market and the "invisible hand" operate correctly only if a product internalizes ALL costs associated with its manufacture and use. As a result of misguided policies like this, we create an inappropriately low price for guns, and too many resources flow into this industry rather than into uses that would benefit society more.

Doesn't matter whether it's guns, cars, doctors, the oil industry, or ladders. It's just plain dumb.

This is Economics 1. Too bad more members of Congress didn't take that course.

6 Comments:

Blogger Richard Wolfe said...

Fight the fight at:
www.bradycampaign.org

July 29, 2005 6:58 PM  
Blogger Jim H said...

That site focuses on politics and values.

I wanted to point out that wholly apart from such concerns, it is stupid economics.

July 30, 2005 12:54 PM  
Blogger Richard Wolfe said...

So ... you are holding out for an organization that lobbies opposes the gun liability shield but only on economic grounds??

July 31, 2005 8:02 AM  
Blogger Jim H said...

No, I am only pointing out that one does not need anything other than political-spectrum-independent economic rules to conclude that this is bad law.

In other words, it should be opposed without need for any organization with an agenda.

July 31, 2005 12:05 PM  
Blogger Richard Wolfe said...

So, no need to organize to effectively fight the NRA, we can oppose it just by behaving like rational consumers?

And now, more news from the NRA:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/04/opinion/04thu3.html

August 04, 2005 7:20 AM  
Blogger Jim H said...

Richard Wolfe said, with more than a little unnecessary condescension and sarcasm:

"So, no need to organize to effectively fight the NRA, we can oppose it just by behaving like rational consumers?"

Well, yes, to a certain extent. Guns, if properly priced in the market, would cost an amount that would dissuade many from buying legal guns. I don't follow the NRA closely, but isn't its thing the right to own LEGAL guns? Does it support the right to own Saturday-night specials?

This approach should also be applied to ammunition. Bullet manufacturers should also have to internalize costs.

The hole in my theory that you should have pounced on is that forcing gun manufacturers to price their product to internalize all costs does nothing about black-market weapons, whether made in the U.S. or elsewhere. Nor does it solve the problem of stolen weapons.

The "fairness" attack goes something like: well then shouldn't McDonalds have to internalize the cost of heart disease and stroke? So far the law has said no, on the theory that people are in control of what they eat and a Big Mac doesn't have killing as its primary purpose. A stronger argument can be made that the tobacco industry should have to take into account the health toll of smoking--which is taking place, albeit imperfectly. And have you noticed that Philip Morris--I mean Altria--is diversifying away from tobacco?

I guess I'll have to disappoint you again. I trust the market, if not skewed by government policy, to handle almost everything better than the government. Hence my opposition to Hilary's health care plan. But that's another argument . . .

And finally, my post simply said that this law was bad economics and should have been killed on that basis alone. Political activity is still necessary, because the dummies keep interfering with the market with lamebrain laws like this.

August 04, 2005 9:20 AM  

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