Alphecca notes a story
where a police officer shot a young man with a bb gun, thinking that
the gun was real and pointed at him, and asks whether there should be
liability for the manufacturer (in making their product look very
similar to a real firearm).
First, it's undisputed that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms
Act does not protect anything that isn't a firearm, and BB guns clearly
do not qualify. Alphecca notes that he considers them weapons
regardless; I agree that some certainly qualify as weapons but I feel
they are more closely categorized as something else. While a bb
gun can cause serious injury, if a BB happens to hit a vulnerable spot,
wounds from one are rarely life-threatening.
Regardless of whether or not a bb gun is a weapon, however, there
should be no liability for the manufacturer. BB guns
closely resembling real firearms have legitimate uses (training, for
example). If criminals use their resemblance to real firearms for
intimidation, they have only themselves to blame when the police or an
armed citizen don't bother to extend the benefit of the doubt.
And if an innocent kid wants to act like a criminal, using his BB gun,
he needs to find better role models... or accept the potentially fatal
consequences of his decision not to.
Indeed, the police officer in the case Alphecca describes might well
have a case against the deceased for negligent actions leading to
emotional distress, lost work, and required counseling. After
all, when you threaten a police officer with what he perceives
(reasonably) to be a firearm, the result is entirely predictable.
I'm not that litigious, of course, but the case could be made -- and
probably would be made, were it ever to be economically feasible to do
But under no circumstances should the manufacturer be liable.
Moreover, a smart manufacturer would be wise to avoid creating a
similarity between their BB guns -- which are capable of causing
serious injury -- and similar devices which are entirely toys, such as
cap guns, which (at least when I was a kid) offered bright orange
plastic barrel plugs so that it was obvious the "gun" was not
real. BB guns may not be weapons, in my opinion, but they are
definitely potentially dangerous, and should be recognized as such.
This entry was published Thu Nov 17 20:57:39 CST 2005 by TriggerFinger
and last updated 2005-11-17 20:57:39.0.