Era of responsibility

Eugene Volokh, in arguing that no one should be able to sue gun manufacturers who, for example, knowingly supply weapons to dealers with established histories of selling to ineligible buyers, makes an analogy to the alcohol industry. Surely, he says, no one would think of holding a booze maker responsible for the fact that much of its product is illegally sold to minors, who then proceed to wrap their cars around trees.

Why not? I thought that the legal rule was that a person is taken to have intended the reasonably foreseeable results of his actions. If Miller Brewing runs ads on TV that an expert on advertising would have predicted would boost demand for its products among those too young to buy them, then why shouldn’t it be held to have intended the resulting violations of law, and their predictably deadly consequences?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: