Gun Shop Forced to Pay $6 Million For Selling Gun Used in Shooting

Gun Shop Forced to Pay $6 Million For Selling Gun Used in Shooting

Gun Shop Forced to Pay $6 Million For Selling Gun Used in Shooting

In a verdict that could prefigure a political alliance between police unions and advocates of new restrictions on private firearms ownership, a federal jury in Wisconsin has ordered Milwaukee-based Badger Guns to pay nearly $6 million to two police officers who suffered severe injuries after being shot with a gun purchased at the store.

This unprecedented civil award will encourage efforts to hold gun retailers — and, perhaps, firearms manufacturers — civilly liable for crimes committed by other people. It also reinforces the prevailing (and factually impoverished) narrative of an ever-escalating “war on cops.” Ten additional lawsuits similar to the one filed against Badger Guns are working their way through the courts.

Officers Bryan Norberg and Graham Kunich were both shot in the face by Julius Burton during an altercation in the summer of 2009. The officers, who arrived in a police van, detained the 18-year-old Burton for riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. A struggle broke out, during which Burton was slammed into a wall. He then pulled a .40 caliber Taurus pistol and shot both officers in the face.

Norberg, who suffered several shattered teeth and an injury to his shoulder, remains on the force. Kunisch lost his left eye and part of the left frontal lobe of his brain and was forced to retire. Burton, who pleaded guilty to first degree attempted homicide while armed, was sentenced to 80 years plus 20 years of “extended supervision.” Jacob Collins, who acted as the “straw buyer” by purchasing the handgun with $40 provided by Burton, was sentenced to two years in prison.

A diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, Burton was not taking his medication at the time of his encounter with the officers. During his sentencing hearing, Burton — who was chained to a wheelchair — said that he had bought the gun for self-protection and that he shot the officers out of fear for his life.

 

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