Badger Guns was ordered to pay $6 million to two Milwaukee police officers who were injured by weapons purchased from their shop. The ruling was the result of a negligence case filed by the two police officers against the gun shop owners for selling firearms linked to hundreds of crimes. Despite the ruling, the gun shop owners maintain that they were deceived by the purchaser of the gun and had no idea that the weapon was being illegally purchased for someone else.
The Associated Press reports that Officer Bryan Norberg and former Officer Graham Kunisch filed the lawsuit against Badger Guns after they were shot in the face with a gun purchased at the store. The officers were shot in the face by Julius Burton after they stopped the man as he rode a bike on the sidewalk back in 2009. The officers claimed that Burton paid another man named Jacob Collins $40 to purchase him a gun from the Badger Guns shop that was located in western Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The lawsuit centered around whether or not the gun shop employees should have known that Collins was purchasing the weapon for someone else. The police officers’ attorney claims that there were numerous warning signs that Collins was acting as a “straw buyer” and that the weapon never should have been sold. The attorneys went on to claim that over 500 weapons used in crimes had been purchased at Badger Guns making it the “No. 1 crime gun dealer in America.”
Despite the claims made by the officer’s attorneys, the Badger Guns owners claimed that they shouldn’t be held liable for crimes committed with weapons purchased in their store when the buyers went out of their way to deceive the gun shop employees. It was noted that the clerk who sold the weapon to Collins did not intentionally commit a crime and had no idea that the weapon would later be used against the officers.
However, as NBC News points out, the jurors in the negligence case disagreed with the Allen family who owns Badger Guns. The jurors found the gun shop owners guilty of negligence and ordered Badger Guns to pay nearly $6 million in damages to the officers. The company was ordered to pay Kunisch $3.6 million, Norberg $1.5 million, plus another $730,000 in punitive damages.
The police officers’ lawyers say that they hope the ruling will change the way guns are sold in suspected “straw” purchases. They note that gun shop owners should take extra care to ensure that weapons purchased at their store are not being sold illegally to buyers who will turn around and sell the weapons to others. However, it seems that the lawyers aren’t holding out hope that a single case in Milwaukee will make that much difference just yet. When asked if they thought the ruling would change the way that gun shop owners sell weapons, the lawyers said they would “hope” so but “that might be asking for too much.”
“I would hope so. That might be asking for too much. One verdict in Milwaukee is a good step. Time will tell.”
Since the ruling, Badger Guns has closed down, but was replaced with a new shop named Brew City Shooters Supply. However, the new shop is still owned by the Allen family.
What do you think about the ruling that Badger Guns was negligent? Do you think gun shop owners should do more to ensure that they are not selling weapons to individuals that will turn around and sell the guns to someone else illegally? If a customer is exceptionally deceitful and a weapon is purchased and used in a crime, should the gun shop owners be held liable?
[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Tom Pennington]