Gun Store Found Liable in $6 Million Lawsuit

Milwaukee officers shot

Milwaukee police officers Graham Kunisch and Bryan Norberg

A Milwaukee, Wisconsin jury had to decide if a gun store was liable for a straw purchase that resulted in the gun being used in the shooting of two police officers. After 12 hours of deliberations, the jury decided that the gun store is liable.

In 2009, Milwaukee police officers Graham Kunisch and Bryan Norberg approached 18-year-old Julius Burton for riding his bike on the sidewalk. They struggled and Burton pulled a gun. Kunisch was shot 5 fives, including in the face, losing an eye. Part of his brain was removed. Norberg was shot in the mouth and still has bullet fragments in his cheek. Burton was arrested and charged.

Surveillance video showed that Burton and a friend went to Badger Guns a month before the shooting.  Burton gave his friend $40.00 to purchase the gun for him. Court records state that Burton gave that money to his friend to buy the gun because he was underage. The store clerk appears to help the friend fill-out the paperwork.

Burton testified at trial via video from the state prison. He testified that he went to Badger Guns for a handgun because “everyone” knew that was the place to go.

The jury awarded the two officers $6 million, finding that Badger Guns was negligent in making the sale, and therefore liable for the shooting that leaves both officers in pain for the rest of their lives.

There are currently a half dozen other lawsuits pending against gun dealers or gun stores for allegedly allowing the illegal sale of firearms. Tuesday’s verdict could impact those and future cases. However, it all depends on the evidence presented to the jury.

Jason Cody

Jason Coday, sentenced to 99 years for the murder of Simone Young Kim

Earlier this year, a Juneau, Alaska jury found that a gun store owner did not illegally sell fugitive Jason Coday a weapon.  Coday killed painting contractor, 26-year-old Simone Young Kim, in August 2006. The case is distinguishable from the Milwaukee case.  In the Alaska case, gun store owner Coxe consistently maintained that Cody stole the gun.

Testimony at trial was that Coday walked into Rayco Sales on Aug. 2, 2006, and talked with Coxe for about 15 to 20 minutes about buying a Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic rifle. Coday was then left unattended in the store, left $200 on the table and walked out with the rifle unnoticed. Coxe called the police and reported the gun stolen about 20 minutes later.

Kim’s estate alleged that Coxe sold Cody the gun off the books and destroyed the video evidence to hide the illegal transaction. Neither of the two cameras in the store recorded when Cody was in the store. They argued that Coxe had no legitimate reason to leave Coday alone in the store. Coxe’s attorney argued that it was a conspiracy theory without evidence.

None of the available information reports that Coday testified as to how he acquired the gun.  That is a significance difference between the two cases.  Both serve as good examples for attorneys to know what is required to get a verdict against gun shops.   They also send a powerful message to gun shop owners to make sure they conduct business legally.




Posted on 10/15/2015, in Cases and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Two sides to a story

    While sometimes stores are at fault, I think the violent level of our society, the gun-and-fear pimping NRA, and politicians that are afraid to stand up to the NRA and the gun lobby, and citizens who push for no controls also have blood on their hands.


  2. scrodriguez

    This is exactly why gun control and some sort of registry laws should be required. Here you have a case of two officers being shot. The out come a liable suit, the reality here is the store owner should have been criminally charged as well as he assisted the shooter in obtaining a gun.

    and here you have a “Responsible Gun Owner” who actually owns a gun store to sell fire arms and what is he doing? selling guns illegally. This is how the majority of hand guns wind up in the hands of criminals and some idiots have the nerve to say gun control wont solve anything.


  3. yahtzeebutterfly

    Hopefully gun shop owners will take note of these cases and avoid selling guns to straw buyers in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • crustyolemothman

      Yahtzee, Until the Fed’s end the ability of people to obtain a Gun Dealer License without a “store” the problem will continue to exist. There are hundreds if not thousands of licensed dealers that operate out of their basement, garage, kitchen and other non retail locations. The government also does not require the dealers to carry a mandatory list of their inventory, only a voluntary list. Many guns are sold by these dealers under the table and paperwork is never filled out. The NRA likes to deny that this happens, but I know of at least one dealer semi locally that does that… It’s time to change the laws, and actually enforce the ones we presently have….

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been off-line, traveling, for the past 2 weeks. I was dismayed to catch up on the news of so many children killing themselves and each other. There is disparity in who gets prosecuted. The LEO in Georgia whose 3 year old killed herself with his personal weapon, isn’t being charged. ‘A horrible accident’, is how it is defined by the Chief. Aren’t they all horrible accidents? Gun laws are a joke when they are allowed to be applied with such disparity.


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