The Gun Subsidy
36 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2020 Last revised: 24 Jul 2020
Date Written: February 12, 2020
Despite thousands of gun deaths annually, the United States has failed to reach consensus on any means of addressing the public health crisis that is gun violence. The issue has become politically polarized, constitutionalized, and an object of pessimism and despair. We propose a regulatory system in which gun manufacturers would be strictly liable to a federal fund for deaths caused by their guns, paired with a subsidy that will serve to ensure the availability of guns sufficient to meet the rights the Supreme Court has found in the Second Amendment. While strict liability of this kind can indeed serve its traditional purposes of spreading costs and incentivizing better designs and processes, our primary goal is to alter the political economy around the issue of gun violence more generally. If manufacturers bear an increasing share of the costs created by their products, they will endeavor not only to produce products and advertise them in ways likely to reduce those costs but also to advocate for regulations that may do the same. While our proposal may not depolarize the issue entirely, it at least attempts to focus the minds and experience of those who know guns best on effective means of reducing guns’ social costs.
Keywords: guns, gun control, administrative law, tort, strict liability, Second Amendment
JEL Classification: I18, K13, K23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation