Since it appears that our state legislatures and US Congress are not willing to take steps to protect people from gun violence then perhaps the courts are the better venue to get things accomplished.
In October of 2015, a Milwaukee jury awarded nearly $6 million in damages to two police officers who were shot and severely wounded with a pistol sold by a local gun shop. The jury found the seller legally responsible for the shootings as a result of the sale of the weapon to someone acting as a stand in for an 18 year old who later used the weapon to wound the officers. Authorities have linked the gun shop, Badger Guns, to hundreds of firearms found at crime scenes.
While The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was signed by President George W. Bush in 2005 to shield gun manufacturers and dealers from civil liability, resulting from “the misuse of their products by others”, an exception from the statute provided support for this cause of action.
The statute provides that victims wounded with a weapon can pursue civil damages if the seller of a firearm knew, or should have known, that the transaction was illegal, or that it would very likely pose a danger.
It is anticipated that the decision will be subject to the appellate review process with the National Rifle Association lending its support to the gun shop owner.
Often times it is our court system that has lead the way in making groundbreaking changes when Congress has lagged behind. Whether it was doing away with racial discrimination in public schools and facilities during the Civil Rights Movement or more recently recognizing the right of same sex marriage, courts have helped pave the way for changes that we now all accept as essential pieces of the American Fabric.
Maybe if the courts lead the way in this fight, Congress will finally act in passing common sense gun reform.