Jewish World Review April 22, 2013/ 12 Iyar, 5773
Why we cannot sue politicians for malpractice
By Jack Kelly
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If you or I suffer injury because our doctor or our lawyer made an egregious mistake or failed to fulfill the fundamental responsibilities of his or her profession, we can sue them for malpractice.
Rep. Diana DiGette, D-Colo, illustrates why it is unfortunate that we cannot sue politicians for malpractice.
Ms. DiGette is the lead sponsor in the House of Representatives of a bill to ban "high-capacity" magazines. At a forum on gun control sponsored by the Denver Post April 2, she made this argument for her bill:
"I will tell you these are ammunition, they're bullets, so the people who have those know they're going to shoot them, so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high-capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won't be any more available."
Ms. DiGette evidently did not know that bullets and magazines are sold separately; that magazines are designed to be reloaded.
"The stunning thing about DeGette's remarks, however, was that they showed a lack of knowledge about a topic on which you'd expect her to be well-informed," said Curtis Hubbard, editorial page editor of the Denver Post.
At the forum, a senior citizen asked Ms. DiGette: "What about me? There may not be one bad guy that comes into my house... I have to change magazines? I am at a serious disadvantage."
Ms. DiGette smirked, then told the man: "The good news for you, you live in Denver. The [Denver Police Department] would be there within minutes." Then she added: "You'd probably be dead anyway if they had that kind of firepower."
So Ms. DiGette coupled monumental ignorance with arrogance. The next day, she hit the trifecta. Rather than admit the glaringly obvious -- that she'd said something really stupid -- she tried, through an aide, to walk it back:
"She simply misspoke in referring to 'magazines' when she should have referred to 'clips,' which cannot be reused because they don't have a feeding mechanism," spokeswoman Juliet Johnson told the Denver Post.
"Actually, clips in most guns can be reused as well," noted Denver Post reporter Allison Sherry. (A clip is a device for holding cartridges together, to facilitate loading. The M-1 rifle of World War II fame used clips. Invented by Mannlicher in 1885, the clip is now archaic. It's been replaced by magazines in military rifles.)
Though no others have displayed it quite so monumentally, ignorance is common among supporters of gun control.
The shooter at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., in December gunned down 20 children with a "fully automatic weapon," President Barack Obama said at a fund-raiser in San Francisco April 3.
Not so. It's been illegal since 1934 for civilians to possess automatic weapons. Adam Lanza's Bushmaster rifle was semi-automatic. (You have to pull the trigger each time to fire a bullet.)
The president may not have been as ignorant as he sounded. Mr. Obama's claim March 28 that 40 percent of all guns are purchased without a background check drew "three pinocchios" from Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler. (The actual figure is between 14 and 22 percent.)
Egregious ignorance of fundamental facts by politicians is by no means limited to guns. Rather than going down, as the president said they would, health insurance premiums will rise by 32 percent when Obamacare kicks in, said the American Society of Actuaries.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius dismissed the report on the grounds the "catastrophic" plans that would be most severely impacted are so "skimpy" they "don't pay for anything unless you get hit by a bus. They're really mortgage protection, not health insurance." Insurance isn't really insurance unless it covers routine expenses, she implied.
That's "exactly backward," said economics writer Megan McArdle. "Coverage of routine, predictable services is not insurance at all; it's a spectacularly inefficient prepayment plan."
Ms. Sebelius evidently doesn't understand what insurance is. For the Cabinet officer in charge of implementing Obamacare, this is negligence as profound as sponsoring a bill to ban "high-capacity" magazines without knowing what magazines are or how they work.
Malpractice by politicians costs Americans far more than malpractice by doctors or lawyers. Since we cannot sue them, we must limit their ability to do us harm.
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. © 2013, Jack Kelly
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© 2013, Jack Kelly