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Gun Store Held Liable for Unlawful Purchase

A recent case in Wisconsin is at the center of a highly publicized ruling because of its unprecedented decision that held a gun store liable for the crimes committed by a person who unlawfully used a weapon purchased at their store. In 2005, there was a law passed under the Bush administration that granted blanket civil immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers, but with several exceptions. Among these is “negligent entrustment” of a buyer with a firearm, for which the jury found the gun shop in Wisconsin liable.

The Case

In 2009, Julius C. Burton was riding his bike on the sidewalk when he was stopped by police. The local ordinance of Milwaukee, Wisconsin prohibits cyclists and riders from using the sidewalk due to possible pedestrian accidents or other circumstances. After Burton did not listen to the two officers, Bryan Norberg and Graham Kunisch, the men got into a fight where the officers knocked Burton into a wall before he shot both officers.

Apparently, Burton purchased the weapon about a month before the confrontation through Jacob Collins, a “straw purchaser” and used the gun in this incident. Burton was 18 and could not buy the gun on his own, so he sought the help of Jacob Collins and paid him to help get the weapon. Both Collins and Burton went to Badger Guns together knowingly buying the gun illegally. Throughout the purchase, Burton was right next to Collins whereas he picked out the gun that he wanted and stood with Collins as Collins filled out the paperwork.

During the paperwork, Collins went back and forth on the actual owner of the gun, which should have been suspicious to the store clerk. Nonetheless, once the paperwork was done, both Collins and Burton left to pick up more money and returned ready for the exchange. After leaving the store, Collins gave the weapon to Burton and never looked back– that’s until Burton shot and severely injured two officers, causing one to lose an eye and suffer brain damage, while the other was clipped in the jaw. Both Burton and Collins were arraigned and given sentences for their involvement in the illegal straw purchase of the weapon and the eventual shooting spree [1].

Badger’s History and Liability

With both the shooter and the straw purchaser are behind bars, the gun shop is also being charged with its role in the incident. And now that this case has brought media attention to the liability of the gun store, there has been a release of information that shows how shady this particular business is. Authorities have said more than 500 firearms recovered from crime scenes had been traced back to Badger Guns and Badger Outdoors, making it the “No. 1 crime gun dealer in America.” [2]

  • In 2006, ATF investigators recommended revoking Badger Outdoors’ license, but there was no annulment. The license was surrendered, and co-owner Mick Beatovic retired. The other owner, Wally Allan, went to work for his son, Adam, who pulled a new license and changed the name to Badger Guns. The changes made in 2006 created what one federal official called a “clean slate,” erasing violations found by federal regulators over 17 years at Badger Outdoors – which had been the top seller of crime guns not just in Milwaukee but the nation.
  • In 2008, ATF investigators conducted an inspection at Badger Guns and found violations. After that inspection, the agency issued a warning letter that told store owner Adam Allan his license could be revoked if violations were found again.
  • ATF investigators were back in 2010. Officials denied Adam Allan’s license renewal after finding violations, the Journal Sentinel reported in December. The ATF generally is not allowed to disclose violations because of secrecy laws passed by Congress that protect gun dealers [3].

After this violation, Allan gave up on renewing his license because of other gun stores who were in similar battles that were losing and spending more money than he could afford.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA

This particular case was a case based on liability and negligence. The first step in proving negligence is to demonstrate that the individual had a certain duty of care in a particular situation. Once you have established a duty of care, you must then establish that the individual breached that duty. The store clerk breached their duty when not providing adequate sensibility when dealing with a gun purchase. The store was held liable because of its own employee’s negligence and the legal history of violations that showed the business was in bad faith.

If you have suffered injury and believe another party has acted negligently, you should not delay in consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney in Clearwater, Florida today. Negligence and related personal injury legal concepts can be complicated and a qualified attorney will know how to sufficiently gather and present evidence of negligence in court so that you can receive the compensation you deserve. Please do not hesitate to call the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at (727) 451-6900 for your free consultation today.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756



[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/10/14/an-unprecedented-jury-verdict-orders-gun-shop-to-pay-nearly-6-million-to-injured-police-officers/
[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/correction-wisconsin-gun-shop-lawsuit-story/2015/10/13/f27ec774-71c7-11e5-ba14-318f8e87a2fc_story.html
[3] http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/badger-guns-to-surrender-license-police-say-132048768.html