Guns and Exploding Pintos

We are a litigious society. I spent some years studying the history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Long before there was a United States, our Pilgrim forbears were suing each other. A lot.

Though the Puritans were devout Christians, they did not tend to the love and forgiveness passages of the Good Book. They had no problem with charging poor people for the cost of throwing them into prison on false charges. I think in some ways they set the tone for our nation today. Do not dwell on human suffering unless you want to be called a ‘bleeding-heart’. Follow the money.

And so we place a dollar value on ‘pain and suffering’ as if you can shoot someone’s foot off and make them whole with a cash settlement.

It’s interesting that gun manufacturers can crank out their product with so little concern for the consequences on the rest of society.

In the 70’s, Ford, a giant of the auto industry, was almost done in by a design flaw on one of their cars– I always think of it as the exploding Pinto.

It seemed like a rational decision to double-down on marketing rather than fix the problem-

Experts calculated the value of a human life at around $200,000, while a serious burn injury was worth about $67,000. Using an estimate of 180 deaths and 180 serious burns, someone put on paper that the cost to redesign and rework the Pinto’s gas tank would cost close to $137 million, while possible liability costs worked out to around $49 million.

Incredibly, they found that in the real world the costs were much higher in dollars and incalculable in human suffering.

Today’s news brings another report of a gun ‘accident’.

An officer who was hurt during a search of Manchester Community College Wednesday was shot in the foot when another officer’s firearm accidentally discharged, Manchester police spokesman Capt. Christopher Davis said Thursday.

The officer, a seven-year veteran of the Manchester department whom Davis would not name, was being treated Thursday at Hartford Hospital. Information sent to the media Wednesday evening that the officer’s own weapon had accidentally discharged was incorrect, he said.

Gun owners who are invested enough in their hobby to spend time at the gun range and practice safety and technique on a regular basis may be more competent than the average police officer in handling a gun without accidentally shooting someone. I don’t know.

I can make an educated guess that the average police officer is much more competent than someone who buys a gun at Walmart and keeps it in their nightstand.

If this product, used by a trained consumer ends up firing a bullet randomly, it’s fair to ask if the product is defective. Like when a police officer is trying to unload a handgun and ‘it just falls apart.’

One exploding Pinto was a tragic accident. When it happened repeatedly it was time to ask questions.

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