In my post about buying used cd's, Myles comments that doing so could be violating unfair use policies (paraphrased).
The more I think about this the more I realize that I'm not, because I'm not ripping (keeping a copy of it) and selling discs and I can't control what someone did before me. Someone could make the argument that I'm enabling the practice of unfair use through my purchases, but then again, so is Amazon, eBay and the local Used CD shops... and as long as they'll facilitate the deal, I'm a willing customer.
But the whole thing got me thinking and I ended up having an interesting discussion with some coworkers about it. We ended up on the subject of Napster and someone brought up the fact that record companies had record sales the year that Napster had the highest number of users. So what is it that Napster did that was illegal? Napster enabled a crime. They made it easy to steal, and they were held accountable for it.
So if Napster can get shut down for enabling theft, why can't gun companies be held accountable for enabling murder?
Isn't murder much worse than stealing?
To me it isn't even close. I've been robbed at gun point and trust me when I tell you that money loses all of its meaning when you have a gun pressed against your forehead.
Could this be a cultural issue? Do we put more value on entertainment than on human life?
Is this a case of powerful interest groups or lobbyists?
Before I get slammed for this post, let me make something perfectly clear: I'm not suggesting doing away with guns or gun companies. I'm suggesting that guns, or bullets for that matter (as comedian Chris Rock suggests), enable a crime to be committed and the companies that produce them should take some responsibility for who gets and uses their products.
Yeah, yeah, I know - guns don't kill people. People kill people. But guns make it easy to do. Have you ever heard of drive-by knifing?
Michael Moore did a whole documentary on this topic (Bowling for Columbine) and I think it comes down to a simple thing: Hope. If you don't have a basic belief that tomorrow is going to be better than today, what difference does it make what you do? Self-interest (in this case a recognition of the possible consequences of your actions) coupled with hope is what prevents most people from even considering shooting another human being. Okay, thats simplistic - but probably not too far off target (if you'll forgive the horrible pun).
In the end, it does come down to personal responsibility. We should each be held accountable for our actions. But what about the companies that enable crimes? Should they all be treated with the same set of rules?
What do you think? Is the comparison between Napster and Gun companies a stretch?