The death, probably by heroin overdose, of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman last weekend has attracted considerable attention in the gun rights/"gun control" debate. This stems from the fact that Hoffman had lent his celebrity and talent to the anti-gun cause, seemingly untroubled by the hypocrisy of also contributing large amounts of cash to some of the most violent people on Earth.
Not everyone, though, who noted his death in relation to the debate approaches the issue from the direction of Hoffman's hypocrisy. Amy Siskind, whose writings are featured in such "progressive" outlets as the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast, posted a question on Facebook:
If we're considering charging the drug dealer who sold heroin to Philip Seymoir [sic] with murder, why aren't we holding the CEOs of gun manufacturing companies to a similar standard?
There has apparently been some speculation about the dealer(s) being charged with murder, or perhaps "only" manslaughter, although the Portland Press Herald notes that any legal mechanism for doing so seems more than a little dubious:
Courts have found that under state law drug dealers can't be held liable for customers' deaths.
A 1972 state appellate division case found a dealer can't be found guilty of manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide for selling heroin and syringes to a customer who later dies because, the court ruled, legislation enhancing punishment for drug crimes didn't redefine homicide to include the sale of an illicit drug that results in death.
And holding a drug dealer criminally liable for a customer's overdose death could prove difficult for the district attorney's office, said James Cohen, a Fordham University School of Law professor who runs a clinic that represents federal criminal defendants.
Still, for the sake of argument, let's pretend that there is indeed a real chance that one or more heroin dealers will be charged in Hoffman's death. Guess what--that doesn't make Siskind's "argument" (being generous here) much stronger.
Think about what she is apparently advocating here--that the makers of a legal, and indeed Constitutionally protected (although that protection is perennially treated as more of a suggestion than the supreme law of the land that it is), product be treated by the legal system the same as the criminal dealers of a substance that was illegal throughout the entire production and distribution process.
Granted, one can debate whether it should be legal for people to poison their bodies with heroin, and for other people to supply them with that poison, and indeed, this correspondent strongly believes that the "War on Drugs" is an immoral, unconstitutional, and ultimately fruitless endeavor. The fact remains, though, that rightly or not, heroin is illegal, and guns (rightly) are not (outraged "progressive" sensibilities notwithstanding), and to treat the trade in one similarly to trade in the other is to make a mockery of the entire rule of law.
Siskind is merely firing another barrage in the "progressive" war of annihilation against the gun culture. Luckily, and like her ideological allies, her aim stinks.
- Bloomberg group used heroin-abusing actor Hoffman in anti-gun video
- Hoffman was narrator of gun control cartoon
- Huffington Post Contributor Amy Siskind: If We Prosecute Drug Dealers, Why Not Gun Manufacturers?
- MAIG tries to sweep Philip Seymour Hoffman under the rug
- A Bizarre Twist of Fate, Indeed
- And They Say There Are No Stupid Questions