“Perfect Storm” WI Gun Sales Case Could End Up In Supreme Court


A jury’s verdict against a Milwaukee gun store two injured Milwaukee police officers is likely to send ripple effects across the nation, but the case itself is far from over, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Officer Bryan Norberg and former officer Graham Kunisch sued Badger Guns alleging they were negligent in the sale of a gun that was used to wound the officers. The jury found that Badger Guns and its owner broke four federal laws and negligently provided the gun to a straw buyer, someone legally buying a gun for someone who cannot legally purchase one. Jurors awarded the officers nearly $6 million in health care costs and lost wages, pain and suffering and punitive damages. The case will be appealed and could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, partly because of a 2005 federal law that granted broad immunity to gun dealers and manufacturers from lawsuits.

The statute allows suits if the plaintiffs can show the gun store broke the law and was negligent in its sales. University of Wisconsin law Prof. Peter Carstensen cautioned that the case may be limited because of specific circumstances of the sale. The straw buyer and the shooter came to the store together, video showed. The straw buyer initially marked on a form that he was not the buyer but was allowed to change that. The men left the store to get more cash to pay for the gun. Those are obvious signs of straw buying, experts said, yet the clerk did not refuse the sale. “The facts here are pretty extreme in terms of what a reasonable salesperson should have known under those circumstances,” Carstensen said. “It does show cases can be won. What better case than policemen seriously injured for a jury to realize there is a problem. It is a perfect storm of a case.”

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