Chris Powell: Of Newtown and Coltsville National Park

Horrible as the massacre at the school in Newtown, Conn., two years ago was, it is not 
justification for whatever its survivors and allied politicians want to make of 
it. Indeed, they have gone too far with their class-action lawsuit against the 
manufacturer of the military-style rifle used in the massacre, the AR-15. 

The rifle is legally sold throughout most of the country and was legal in 
Connecticut at the time of the massacre. So the lawsuit claims that the rifle is 
beyond proper operation by civilians and thus should not have been made 
available to them -- a claim of "negligent entrustment." 

While the lawsuit asserts that the AR-15 "has little utility for legitimate 
civilian purposes," it has been sold to civilians in the United States for 50 
years, about 3 million are in civilian hands, and, because of its light weight 
and accuracy, it is the most popular rifle in shooting competitions. Further, 
federal law exempts firearms makers from liability for criminal use of their 

Maybe the lawsuit still will win damages, through settlement or trial. It has 
been filed in state court in Bridgeport, just a few miles from Newtown, to 
exploit local sympathies. But victory for the plaintiffs could put the 
manufacturer out of business and effectively outlaw the AR-15's manufacture 
through risk of more liability. 

That seems to be the plaintiffs' objective, and then the lawsuit's theory could 
be applied against  any gun manufacturing. Something that 
big should be accomplished democratically, by repeal of the Second Amendment, 
not by a mere state court verdict in a damage case. The Newtown people already 
have intimidated state government into weakening Connecticut's 
freedom-of-information law. 

Of course, the country has an appalling problem with gun violence. But it's not 
really a gun problem at all, and even if it was and the Second Amendment could 
be repealed, there would be no way of confiscating enough guns to make a 
difference, since about 300 million are estimated to be in civilian hands. 

No, most gun violence arises from the financial premium bestowed on drugs by 
futile criminalization and by the welfare system's subsidies for childbearing 
outside marriage, which deprives young men of the parenting they need to become 
civilized. Those issues remain largely beyond political discussion in 

Meanwhile, even as they advocate curtailing gun ownership, Connecticut 
politicians this week were congratulating themselves on the approval of federal 
legislation to designate the Colt Manufacturing Co. buildings in Hartford as a 
national park, Coltsville. 

Colt wasn't just the developer of repeating guns. A half century ago Colt was 
the first to manufacture AR-15s for civilian use. But the national park's 
advocates never mention guns at all. No, the Coltsville National Park is said to 
be a tribute to Connecticut's leadership with "technology." 

* * * 

Former Connecticut House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan (D-Meriden), is following 
Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr. (D-Thompson), into the employ of the 
state's largest teachers union, the Connecticut Education Association. Now if 
the CEA can hire a former governor and a former chief justice, it can claim 
ownership of the whole of government in a state whose subservience to special 
interests has become shameless. 
* * * 

Having refused a couple of weeks ago to explain the firing of the longtime 
director of the state Office of Labor Relations, insisting that "we don't 
comment on personnel matters,"  Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy's communications director, Andrew 
Doba, this week somehow managed to distribute a dozen detailed announcements 
about personnel changes in the Malloy administration -- including one about his 
own departure. Former Malloy campaign aide Mark Bergman will take charge of the 
non sequiturs and contradictions. Now that they won't have Doba to kick around 
anymore, Connecticut political writers may hope that Bergman is as good a sport. 

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn.