Gun control activists fail to derail ammo seller's appointment to state board

Gun control activists fail to derail ammo seller's appointment to state board
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File

An effort to block Lucky Gunner owner and co-founder Jordan Mollenhour from a seat on the Tennessee Board of Education failed this week as the Tennessee House gave an overwhelming vote of approval over the objections of gun control activists and some Democratic politicians.

Mollenhour was tapped by Gov. Bill Lee for the open seat last November, but gun control groups had mounted a campaign to defeat the nomination based on several lawsuits that have been filed against Lucky Gunner over the years seeking to hold the company responsible for the actions of criminals.

“There are 7 million people in this state,” Democratic Senate Minority Jeff Yarbro said during debate last week. “We ought to be able to find one who is not involved in ongoing litigation about possible responsibility in a school shooting.”

Republican House Majority Leader William Lamberth defended Mollenhour on Thursday, saying that “if a person sells enough ammunition, there will be an evil person that misuses it.”

A lawsuit in Texas accuses Lucky Gunner of not verifying the age of Dimitrios Pagourtzis before selling him more than 100 rounds of ammunition, some of which were used to kill 10 people at Santa Fe High School, southeast of Houston, in 2018.

Pagourtzis was a 17-year-old junior at the time. Federal law prohibits minors from purchasing handgun ammunition, and also bars licensed gun companies from selling handgun or shotgun ammunition to minors.

Mollenhour is a defendant in the civil case. Last month, the Texas Supreme Court denied the company’s request to have the lawsuit dismissed.

Lucky Gunner and its owners had argued they were immune from litigation under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which prohibits firearms and ammunition manufacturers and dealers from being held liable when their products are used in crimes.

Lucky Gunner had faced a similar lawsuit after the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting in Colorado in which 12 people were killed. But a federal judge dismissed that lawsuit in 2015.

Mollenhour, for his part, said before the House vote that he had reached out to several of his critics in the legislature and offered to answer any questions they had, but unsurprisingly never heard back from any of them. The Lucky Gunner owner also told The Tennessean newspaper that the attacks against him were nothing more than “political theater” and a chance for anti-gun activists to go after the Second Amendment in a state strongly supportive of the right to keep and bear arms.

I don’t know what exactly those activists were hoping to accomplish, but all they managed to do is demonstrate their impotence in the Tennessee legislature. Not only did the House overwhelmingly approve Mollenhour’s nomination, the state Senate also gave him the thumbs up on a 26-6 vote. It appears that the only folks who found his appointment controversial are the ones who would like to see Lucky Gunner and every other ammo retailer and gun store owner put out of business, and the gun control lobby’s inability to move the needle of public opinion even an iota is worth noting.

Mollenhour is expected to chair a study committee on career/technical education and workforce development once he formally takes his position on the Board of Education. I’m hoping that study can look at ways to help students enter the firearms industry after graduation; something that I’m sure would utterly infuriate the gun prohibitionists but also makes a lot of sense in a state that’s attracting more interest from major manufacturers in recent years.