Prof. Volokh on DC gun mfr decision
Prof. Gene Volokh (UCLA Law School) posts his take on the DC Court of Appeals decision. A snippet:
And this law imposes liability for manufacturing and distributing semiautomatic weapons even if the manufacturers and dealers are distributing the guns far outside D.C., in a jurisdiction where the guns are perfectly legal -- and semiautomatic guns are legal nearly everywhere in the U.S. You may have the perfect right to buy such a gun in some state (let's say Tennessee), sellers may have the right to sell it to you there, and Tennessee-based manufacturers may have the right to make it there, both under Tennessee law and under federal law. But because of the actions of the D.C. City Council, the manufacturers may find themselves having to stop selling the guns in Tennessee, for fear of being sued in D.C. Or they may at least increase the gun's price, which means that the D.C. City Council would have effectively imposed a tax on what happens in Tennessee.
Now some people may think that such guns should be banned or taxed because some people use them illegally, or gun manufacturers should be held liable for that. Others (including me) think that this is no more proper than allowing lawsuits against car or alcohol manufacturers because some people drive drunk. (There are about as many alcohol-related and car-related deaths of innocent bystanders as of gun-related bystanders.)
But whatever you think of the bottom line, surely it's wrong for the D.C. City Council, which represents about 0.2% of the U.S. population, to make rules that affect 99.8% of the population. That's precisely the sort of burden on extra-state behavior that Congress has the power to lift (even if the burden is imposed by a quasi-sovereign state, rather than by the D.C. City Council, which is directly within Congress's plenary power), and that Congress indeed should lift.
And I'd also say the same about similar liability rules imposed on other products besides guns. Say that some neo-prohibitionist state indeed decides to make alcohol manufacturers strictly liable for all alcohol-related crimes caused in that state, even if the alcohol is made and sold outside the state. It would be just as wrong for that state to impose its alcohol-prohibitionist rules on out-of-state manufacturers, distributors, and consumers as it is for D.C. to impose its gun-prohibitionist rules.