The Greene County Legislature’s resolution to oppose a bill calling for firearms manufacturers to be held liable for the “public nuisance” created by firearms spurs a long list of questions.

How can weapons that cause the death of so many innocent men, women and children be trivialized as a public nuisance? Who do the lawmakers believe is responsible for the creation of these weapons? And what goes through their minds when news of children shot in the streets of Albany flashes on their TV screens?

If signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the bill would open up opportunities to sue manufacturers and gun retailers in civil cases where a preponderance of evidence shows that untenable risk was not avoided: For example, if a gun dealer does not have adequate physical security measures like cameras to prevent thefts.

The rationale behind the resolution is that Remington Arms, a firearms manufacturer with a plant in Ilion, employs upstate New Yorkers and supplies many retailers in the county. Hunting and hunting-related events are “a major recreational activity” for residents, as well as an attraction that draws people to the county every season.

This is shallow justification for the resolution. Gun manufacturing is a job-creating growth industry, but not in Greene County; it’s unlikely that a plant in Ilion employs anyone from Greene County. We haven’t heard about hunters complaining of a rifle shortage at any local gun retailers, who always are well-stocked. People who hunt for sport generally have owned guns for many years and don’t need to buy them fresh off the factory floor.

This newly minted legislation won’t infringe on Second Amendment rights because it centers on gun production, not gun ownership. It’s about accountability and expectations. The Greene County Legislature ought to bone up on its Jules Verne, who wrote these words: “All men are responsible to all other men.” That includes gun manufacturers.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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