The Magazine

Iraq-al Qaeda connection, Gore, and more.

Dec 1, 2003, Vol. 9, No. 12
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Falcon Waterfree Technologies, an environmental technology company, is hell-bent on making the traditional urinal obsolete, since each one of these instruments is responsible for wasting some 40,000 gallons of water per year. As the self-proclaimed "worldwide leader" in waterfree urinal technology, the company insists "global demand for waterfree urinals is taking off."

We tend to believe them. THE SCRAPBOOK knows countless men who, after an afternoon spent drinking too much coffee, stand there thinking, "This would be great, were it not for all the flushing."

Al Gore himself seems to think it's no laughing matter. A Falcon spokesman told the Washington Times's John McCaslin, "Mr. Gore takes his role of advisory board member . . . very seriously." It is tempting, of course, to rain bad puns down on Gore, to suggest he is flushing his reputation. But we can't muster the enthusiasm. Instead, we'll leave you with the observation of one longtime Gore-watcher, who, when told of this new development, slapped his forehead and exclaimed: "No s*#%."

Shooting Blanks

The Ninth Circuit has preserved its reputation as the most insanely liberal of the federal appeals courts. In a 2-1 decision last week, the court held that gun manufacturers are potentially liable for crimes committed by any nutjob who gets his hands on a gun. The plaintiffs argued that Glock and other manufacturers flood the market with more guns than there is legal demand for, and are thus knowingly supplying the illegal market as well. (As Ted Frank notes on the excellent website www.overlawyered.com, the two judges voting in the majority also voted to postpone the California recall election--the notorious decision overturned in short order by the full court.)

The complaint alleges that the defendants sold in a "high-risk, crime-facilitating manner . . . including [via] gun shows, 'kitchen table' dealers, pawn shops, multiple sales, straw purchases, faux 'collectors' and distributors, dealers and purchasers whose ATF crime-trace records or other information defendants knew or should have known identify them as high-risk." The case arose from the 1999 shooting spree by neo-Nazi Buford Furrow, who injured five people and killed one in his rampage at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, California. (The Glock in the case, however, was originally sold to a police department.)

Congress is considering legislation to prevent such lawsuits, which twist traditional understandings of liability beyond recognition. The Lawful Commerce in Arms Act would bar suits based on criminal or unlawful acts by a third party. The bill has passed the House of Representatives, but is unlikely to get a vote in the Senate this year.

In the meantime, manufacturers like Glock will presumably want to be wary about the kind of police departments they sell their firearms to.