A Missouri mother says a pawn shop should be held accountable for selling her mentally ill daughter the gun she used to kill her own father. She is challenging a defense in her lawsuit. The pawn shop Defendant claims that state and federal law protects a seller from liability. Jonathan Lowy, a lawyer with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, told state Supreme Court judges last month that Odessa Gun & Pawn was negligent when it sold Colby Sue Weathers the gun in June 2012, only hours before she used it to shoot and kill her father and two days after her mother warned the store that her daughter was mentally ill. The state has since committed Ms. Weathers – the shooter – to a mental institution.
The gun dealer, backed by arguments from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, claims that both Missouri and federal laws block lawsuits. The 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act bars some state-law actions against gun dealers if buyers use the weapons to harm others. Lowy, the Plaintiff’s lawyer, contends that this law doesn’t block his client’s claim against the pawn shop. However, he does say that if this court interprets it to do so, the law should be ruled unconstitutional because it intrudes on states’ rights and takes away legal opportunities for victims of gun violence.
While the pawn shop had the right to refuse to sell a gun to Ms. Weathers, it’s contended in the suit that it was store practice to sell guns to anyone who passed a background check. I agree with the statement made by the Plaintiff’s lawyer, who told the Associated Press:
There’s a Second Amendment right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to have guns, but with rights come responsibilities. Gun dealers have a responsibility to use reasonable care to prevent dangerous people from getting guns.
The judges who heard arguments questioned the lawyers about how similar hypothetical cases might play out legally. Judge Laura Denvir Stith asked the Plaintiff’s lawyer whether a car dealer would be considered negligent if, after being notified that someone with a history of drunken driving was intoxicated at the time and planned to buy a vehicle, the dealer sold the individual a car anyway. Judge Richard B. Teitelman raised questions about a gun dealer’s responsibility if advised against selling a gun to someone whose relatives warn that they might carry out a mass shooting. Judge Teitelman said that’s an example of “some of the issues we’re dealing with today.” The Judges did not indicate when they might rule on the case.
Source: Claims Journal
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