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Badger Guns: As case heads to higher courts, it could set a standard for gun shops

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MILWAUKEE -- The case has received national attention. A Milwaukee County jury awarded two injured police officers more than $5 million. Jurors ruled Badger Guns was negligent when it sold a gun to a man who was buying it for someone else. Where does the case go from here -- and will it lead to more lawsuits?

The jury determined there were signs the sales staff at Badger Guns should have caught when selling a gun to Jacob Collins. Collins was buying the gun for Julius Burton, an 18-year-old with a history of mental problems. Burton ended up shooting two Milwaukee police officers.

"I've not seen or heard of another case like this. It is really a unique case," said Janine Geske, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice.

Geske says the ruling against Badger Guns is likely headed to a much higher court.

"If the court of appeals decides it, I'm sure it will go to the Wisconsin Supreme Court -- and that's the court that's really going to decide the fundamental policy," said Geske.

The policy would determine not only whether to uphold a jury award of nearly $6 million, but it may also set a new precedent -- one that determines whether gun shops can be held liable if a sloppy sale leads to a shooting.

It's a precedent that concerns Wisconsin Carry President Nik Clark.

"I think the unfortunate side of the outcome is going to be that gun stores, especially gun stores near urban areas, are going to have to profile their customers," said Clark.

In the Badger Guns case, attorneys for the injured officers argue the store should have been concerned that the 18-year-old Burton pointed out to Jacob Collins the gun he would eventually use to shoot officers Graham Kunisch and Bryan Norberg. They say the store also should have asked more questions when Collins initially put on the form the gun was for someone else before changing his answer.

"I've filled out that form incorrectly. I've made mistakes on that form and I'm a college-educated guy," said Clark.

Geske said if the ruling is upheld in higher courts, it will set a standard that, in her opinion, is reasonable.

"Gun stores and people that sell guns are going to have to look much more closely at who they sell it to and what are the circumstances under which they sell it," said Geske.

Geske said she expects the case to go before the Court of Appeals in about six to nine months. She said it could take as long as two years for there to be a final ruling from the state Supreme Court. Geske believes it is extremely unlikely the U.S. Supreme Court would take up the case.

1 Comment

  • idiots

    If they are found guilty of negligence for selling a gun in an obvious straw buy that’s one thing, but how can they possibly know he was going to shoot anyone or do any wrong doing. I hate people getting blamed for things they didn’t do. They did sell a gun in an oblivious straw but be punished fine, but they did not shoot the police officers.

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