Brady’s Response To Badger Gun Win

I probably should have looked for the Brady Center’s response to the outcome of the Badger Guns’ case but just didn’t want to hear them gloat.

There are some things there were not said in the press release below. First and foremost is the fact that Brady Center attorneys Jonathan Lowy and Alla Lefkowitz were removed from the case and censured by the Wisconsin Supreme Court for legal improprieties.

Second, the “89 people dying every day from guns” statement by Dan Gross gives the impression that all 32,000 plus of those deaths were the direct result of the illegal use of a firearm as well as that firearm being sold improperly by a Federally license dealer. However, the reality is that that number includes suicides, hunting accidents, criminals shot and killed by the police, and, yes, people who were murdered. According to the latest mortality data from the CDC, there were 11,208 homicides using a firearm in 2013. There were 41,149 self-inflicted deaths in 2013 of which about half involved the use of a firearm. As Dan Gross and the coterie of public health researchers in the pockets of the anti-rights movement know, adding suicide numbers grossly distorts the real issue.

Third, the use of the term “gun companies” gives the impression that a straw purchase is the fault of the manufacturer. This, of course, is incorrect. In this case, if the FFL was truly negligent, then the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act worked as intended because negligent acts are not protected by it.

So with that being said, here is what the Brady Center had to say:

WASHINGTON, DC – In a landmark decision, a Milwaukee jury yesterday found Badger Guns responsible for the illegal sale of a gun that was used to seriously injure two police officers. Lawyers from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence brought the case in 2010.

Until now, the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act has made such victories all but impossible, providing gun companies unique legal protections in many cases when they negligently sell or make a gun that ends up being used in a crime.

Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign & Center to Prevent Gun Violence said: “This case should serve as a warning to all gun dealers who resort to irresponsible and unsafe business practices. You must be responsible corporate citizens or the Brady Center will hold you accountable. With 89 people dying every day from guns, Americans have had enough of the special rules that make gun companies richer and place ordinary people in danger of being shot and killed.”

The Milwaukee jury awarded over $5 million to the two police officers, finding Badger Guns responsible for the sale to a straw purchaser because the store knew or had reasonable cause to believe that the sale was illegal.

Jonathan Lowy, Director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project, who successfully argued against the dealer’s motions to dismiss and summary judgment, said: “Two brave officers and an extraordinary trial lawyer, Pat Dunphy, made history yesterday, and they made America a safer place. Most gun dealers are decent, responsible business people who already do what they can to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. But to those dealers who choose to irresponsibly supply and profit from the criminal market, the message from Milwaukee is clear: protect people over profits, or you will have to pay the consequences to your victims.”

The Brady Center, along with the law firm of Cannon & Dunphy of Brookfield, Wisconsin brought the lawsuit in 2010 on behalf of two police officers injured in the line of duty, Bryan Norberg and Graham Kunisch. Patrick Dunphy tried the case for the officers, assisted by Brett Eckstein.

Bad Apple Lawyers Win One In Milwaukee

The Brady Center won one this afternoon in Milwaukee. A jury decided in favor of the plaintiffs and against Badger Guns in a lawsuit that was supported by the Brady Center. The lawsuit accused Badger Guns of being negligent for allowing a straw purchase. The firearm purchased was later used to shoot two Milwaukee police officers. The jury awarded the police officers $5 million.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The high-profile case, only the second of its kind nationwide, went to the jury of eight women and four men late Monday afternoon and deliberations continued Tuesday. They deliberated for nine hours.

Officer Bryan Norberg and former Officer Graham Kunisch were shot by Julius Burton during a routine stop on Milwaukee’s near southside in June 2009. A month earlier, Jacob Collins bought the gun at Badger Guns for Burton, who was too young to buy a handgun from a store. Burton paid Collins $60. Burton is serving 80 years while Collins already finished his two years in federal prison.

Norberg and Kunisch allege in their 2010 suit that Badger Guns, its predecessor, Badger Outdoors, and the owners of both broke the law, were negligent in sales practices and conspired to keep the operation going when federal regulators recommended revoking the license.

The case is the second to make it to trial since a federal law passed granting immunity to gun dealers and manufacturers. The law has exceptions, including allowing plaintiffs to sue if they can show evidence of illegal gun sales. The first such case to go to trial ended in victory for an Alaskan gun store his summer.

The conspiracy allegation by Kunisch and Norberg is aimed at how the store went from being Badger Outdoors to Badger Guns in 2007.

Badger Guns lost its FFL in 2011 for reasons unrelated to this straw purchase.

According to a report on the case by Pierre Thomas of ABC News, the defendants do plan to appeal the verdict.

Brady Center attorneys Jonathan Lowy and Alla Lefkowitz had been forced to withdraw from this case for violating Wisconsin Supreme Court rules of conduct for attorneys.

UPDATE: A commenter on Facebook, Anthony aka The Packetman, pointed out quite correctly that the BATFE would have brought criminal charges against the owners of Badger Guns if they thought they had a winnable case. They didn’t.

It should also be pointed out that the standard of proof in a civil trial is much less than in a criminal trial. It only requires a preponderance of the evidence to win unlike in criminal cases which requires beyond a reasonable doubt.