According to Manuel Velasquez, a person is morally accountable for an injury or harm if it is inflicted by another individual, the person was aware of the mistake or had the ability to prevent it from taking place (62). Thus, both Bushmaster and Bull’s Eye had the moral responsibility for the death of Washington DC victims. However, the store and the organization were not able to stop the homicide since they sold prohibited products. The virtue theory stipulates that Bushmaster and Bull’s Eye have the moral obligation for the act of selling guns, intentionally (Velasquez 62).
It is a fact that companies that manufacture and sell guns are not responsible for death that is caused as a result of the use of their products. A gun cannot kill an individual unless it is used by another person to cause harm. Even if there were no guns, murderers would still carry on killing people using other alternative weapons. There are even certain cases whereby people commit murder other kinds of weapons (Velasquez 62). The cases of Malvo and Muhammad are different, considering that the federal law prohibits the purchase of guns. Malvo was a foreigner who had been banned from living in Washington DC. Muhammad on the other hand, had a restraining order for violence (Velasquez 63). The Bull’s Eye shooter was a gun dealer, while the Bushmaster was the manufacturer. The morality concept is applicable to both parties, including the killers. The companies sold the guns to assassins who were not allowed by law to purchase guns.
Manufacturers and dealers are usually held accountable on moral grounds for harm inflicted on others, as a result of the use of their defective products. Besides, they also have the responsibility for injury that is caused by customers using any of the products from the company with the aim of harming a third party. Moral virtue is the ability of an individual to act in a manner that is morally upright (Velasquez 62).
Manufacturers and dealers should always make sure that they do not sell products that will cause harm to other people. In this case, Bushmaster did not have in place any measures to ensure that customers use its products safely. Even though the dealer had previously been involved in numerous unlawful operations, it still went ahead to sell the defective weapons to Bull’s Shooter Supply.
Besides, the organizations that deal in weapons have the responsibility of controlling, monitoring and supervising the activities of their dealers in order to avoid causing harm to other people. Therefore, Bushmaster and Bull’s Eye had the moral accountability for the crime since they were negligent in their operations. The violent acts by Muhammad and Malvo were deliberately committed. The manufacturer, Bushmaster did not undertake sufficient investigations on the records of Bull’s Eye before supplying them with the guns (Velasquez 63). They ignored the responsibility of monitoring and supervising the way in which Bull’s Eye was handling sales and distribution of the guns. Besides, Bushmaster did not offer guidance to the dealer on the laws governing the distribution of guns and weapons (Velasquez 63). If the two companies had acted within their obligations, Malvo and Muhammad could have been stopped from buying the weapons used in committing murder. Therefore, the two companies Bushmaster and Bull’s Eye played a role in facilitating the death of the victims and were to take responsibility for the loss. It should be noted that any person who willingly offers support to another in order to cause harm is held morally accountable for the act.
The virtue theory is not focused on the regulations that should be followed by individuals, instead on helping people to build good personality. The proper behavior of an individual will enable him or her to make informed decisions in the future. Besides, the virtue theory underlines the moral characteristics of a person apart from his or her acts. The theory is generally focused on examining the moral character of a person and making judgment on the personal motives and intentions instead of considering their act to be morally acceptable or not. It is only through the observation of an action that one is able to tell if it is right or wrong. Characters like honesty, integrity, and self control can be used to explain this virtue. Individual traits like dishonesty, cowardliness, lack of integrity and greed are the opposite of virtue. The general view of virtue is character evaluation (Velasquez 126).
In the evaluation of character, one should first understand the meaning of moral virtue. Business ethics books define moral virtue as ‘’an acquired disposition that is considered to be part of the character of a morally upright person and that is portrayed in his or her behavior’’ (Velasquez 128). This means that whenever a person continually does something that is good, he or she begins to acquire the good moral virtue. Honesty enables one to feel good. One will always be at peace whenever he or she tells the truth.
Different people have analyzed the moral virtue theory in various ways. There are different opinions on moral virtue as presented by Aristotle, Aquinas, Maclntyre and Pincoff. According to Aristotle, ‘’Moral virtue is a mean between two vices, one of excess and the other of deficiency and it is aimed at hitting the mean in emotions and actions’’ (Velasquez 132). The explanation by Aristotle was that courage is a virtue of feeling a bit fearful when one is going through a difficult situation. He was illustrating that moral virtue is achieved through repetitions.
The view of Aquinas on moral virtue is similar to that of Aristotle, however, he points out that happiness is not only achieved from moral virtue but also having the thought about God and learning about his wisdom. Macintyre holds the belief that moral virtue is the inherent quality of a person’s mind and character, which enables him or her to acquire more knowledge (Velasquez 134).
My judgment in the above case is that it is right to hold Bushmaster and Bull’s Eye accountable for the death of the victims because they deliberately acted irresponsibly, in the knowledge of the consequences of their actions. The failure by Bushmaster to carry out an investigation on the records of the dealer, and the move by the dealer to sell guns to Muhammad and Malvo were intentional since the two had been prohibited by the federal law from purchasing guns (Velasquez 6).
Bushmaster and Bull’s Eye should have made sure that they sold their products to customers who would not end up wrongly using them to cause harm to others. The sold defective weapons to Bull’s eye shooter supply despite the dealer having engaged in dangerous operations in the past. This justifies the moral wrong in their actions. The responsibility for corporate acts should be shared among the parties that are accountable for them since it would have been unlikely for one party to succeed without the help of another. Thus, Malvo and Muhammad would not have been successful in committing the murders without the support of Bushmaster and Bull’s Eye who were the manufacturer and dealer respectively (Velasquez 63). Any organization that supports the actions of others with no good intentions or motives willingly is held morally accountable for the consequences.
The virtue theory was appropriate in the analysis of the case since it is mainly focused on the moral character of a person that resulted into the acts of immorality by the individuals. According to the assertions by Aristotle on virtue theory, helping an individual while knowing that it is morally right may shape the moral belief of that person in the times to come. Besides, it also analyzes whether an individual’s act is intentional or accidental, whether his or her intentions are good or bad. The virtue theory justifies that Bushmaster and Bull’s Eye are morally responsible for their actions. If their motives were good, they could have helped in preventing the death of the victims by hindering the assassins from obtaining the guns. The virtue theory points out that people develop a moral character based on their practices, thus, if Bushmaster and Bull’s Eye had acted in a manner that is morally upright, they would have helped to save the loss of the lives (Velasquez 62).
Bushmaster was aware of the audits that indicated that Bull’s Eye lost documentations and records showing the purchase of the guns by Malvo and Muhammad. However, they still went ahead to intentionally supply the weapons for their personal gains without any consideration of the consequences. They are therefore, held responsible for the crime not as a result of the stated rules and consequences of breaking the law, but because their intentions and motives were wrong. Bushmaster and Bull’s Eye did not take any action even though it was their responsibility (Velasquez 63).
The virtue theory is not focused on the correct regulation, instead, emphasizes on a person’s character. It is the right approach towards ensuring that people understand their mortal obligations. The two organizations can easily understand the reasons behind being held morally accountable for the murders. However, the virtue theory is challenging to apply since people have not been able to come to an agreement on what virtue is despite it being the most ideal theory to be used in the analysis of such cases (Velasquez 61).
Velasquez, Manuel G. Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson, 2012. Print.