A $1 million settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought by two Orange, N.J., police officers who were badly wounded by a robber using a gun bought by a straw buyer at a South Charleston, W.Va., pawnshop, says the New York Times. Lawyers plan to submit the settlement to a West Virginia judge today. It is reportedly the first time a dealer will pay damages for supplying a firearm to the illegal gun market, said Dennis Henigan of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “We believe the settlement will send a message loud and clear to gun sellers that they will pay a high price for supplying the underground market this way,” he said. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says the criminal market for guns is supplied largely through retail purchases of firearms from licensed gun dealers, often when a straw purchaser buys guns for a trafficker who is barred from buying one and then sells the weapons to other criminals.
In the W.Va. Tammi Lea Songer, a taxi driver who had no criminal record but was high on drugs, was given $4,000 by a convicted felon, James Gray, to buy 12 semiautomatic handguns. Lawrence Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade association, said: “If there was an illegal straw purchase, they should be prosecuted and sent to prison and the same for the dealer, if he was complicit. Nobody is in favor of straw purchases.”