John M. Snyder

Monday, January 1st, 2001

Citing his willingness to cover the
gun rights issue with “a truly objective,
and maybe even a pro-gun point
of view,” CCRKBA Public Affairs Director
John M. Snyder has nominated-
Kenneth Smith, deputy Editorial Page
editor at the Washington Times with the
January Gun Rights Defender of the
Month Award.
Smith has written “some truly solid
columns recently on the gun issue,
and has blasted away in a most cogent
manner at the attempt to blame the
gun industry for the misuse of its
products by certain individuals,” Snyder
stated. “He truly is most deserving
of this award.”
In nominating Smith, Snyder observed,
“Many, if not most of the
working journalists who today write
and/or talk about the issues of gun
control and the right to keep and bear
arms manifest a decided bias opposed
to the legitimate rights of law abiding
gun owners. It is most refreshing,
then, and also most encouraging, to
realize that there are also a number of
journalists today who are willing to
stand up in the middle of the anti-gun
profession and approach the issue
from a truly objective, and maybe
even pro-gun point of view.”
Smith is a 1979 graduate of Washington
and Lee University. He told
Point Blank that his columns on the
gun issue have generated more mail
than columns on the recent Florida
presidential election controversy. In
December, Smith wrote a column on
New York teenager Stephen Fox, who
was permanently disabled in 1994
when his friend, Alfred Adkins, accidentally
shot him in the head with
a .25 caliber handgun.
Subsequently charged with attempted
murder, Adkins eventually
pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of
reckless endangerment.
That’s not where the case ended,
Smith discovered. Attorneys got involved,
and next thing anybody
knew, they were going after gun
manufacturers.
Wrote Smith incredulously: “…
pushed and pulled along by the
plaintiff’s bar, the case turned into a
search for the real culprit, one presumably
with deeper pockets than
the gunman.
“That culprit turned out to be gun
manufacturers surprise who
abruptly found themselves on trial
for a shooting that they hadn’t even
heard of at the time, much less one
in which they had participated. Despite
the fact that authorities never
found the crime weapon and never
established even the make of the
weapon, a federal jury found three
gun makers Beretta USA Corp.,
American Arms, Inc. and Taurus International
Manufacturing, Inc. liable
for Fox’s injuries because they
had distributed their products in a
negligent manner. Federal district
Judge Jack Weinstein awarded the
victim damages based on the manufacturers’
share of the gun market.”
That case, now on appeal to the 2nd
US Circuit Court, may not be decided
for a while. Smith wrote that
the Court is “struggling to decide
what further obligations a company
that both makes a legal product and
distributes it legally has to prevent
someone from shooting, accidentally
or otherwise, his friend in the head.”
Smith noted that other companies,
which manufacture products that
may be more politically correct, are
watching this case closely, because
they could be next on a trial lawyer’s
list of potential litigation targets.
Smith wrote that gun manufacturers
have been on trial before, specifically
in the aftermath of the 1993
commuter train shooting in New
York by convicted killer Colin Ferguson.
In that case, even the bullet
manufacturer was targeted on the grounds that the company should
have only sold its ammunition to law
enforcement. Fortunately, the 2nd Circuit
Court rejected that lawsuit, Smith
reported.
Smith’s column takes courts and
attorneys to task, and perhaps try to
interject some common sense into a
politically-charged environment
where there seems sometimes to be no
sense at all.