The Breakfast Table

Anything but Impeachment


Thursday. Trial. Senate. Pigheaded. Witnesses? Travesty. And that’s all I have to say on the subject.

Isn’t it lovely that Prince Edward is getting married?

I naturally thought of you when I read this morning’s Times editorial warning against complacency about declining homicide rates. Apparently, while there has been a 50% decrease between 1980 and 1997 in the number of firearm homicides by Americans 25 or older, the 18-to-24-year-old group revealed a nearly 50% increase over the same period. “Moreover, the Justice Department figures omit the even greater number of firearm deaths through accidental shootings and suicides each year by young people under 25.”

The culprit, the Times proposes, is the spread of illegal handguns among young people. I did read yesterday’s story about efforts to sue gun manufacturers for flooding the market with weapons they are presumed to know will be distributed illegally. As you may be aware, I support gun control measures at their most Draconian. But I have to ask anyway: How does one justify holding the manufacturers accountable for the way guns are distributed without also holding accountable the lawmakers who have failed to enforce stricter controls, and the lobbyists who have put pressure on those legislators? And then there’s the tricky question raised after the schoolyard killings last year of how much responsibility parents should take for their children’s homicidal tendencies.

I worry that I touched an Ayn Rand novel once and became infected with too many scruples about holding adults accountable for their own actions. I worry that we are turning into a society of finger-pointers. But as you know, I am no libertarian. Of course, guns should have mandatory safety features and distribution should be regulated. Manufacturers have control over safety devices, but how will litigators persuade a court that they should pay when distribution goes awry?

Hope your spirits are higher than this morning’s temperature.