Federal law generally protects gun stores and manufacturers from being sued if the products they lawfully sell are used in crimes. This protection makes sense considering how many people lash out at the maker of a gun or the store who sold it when neither did anything wrong. This is something that automakers and other manufacturers or retailers don’t have to deal with.
However, the law doesn’t protect companies from being sued for their own screwups. If they don’t follow the law, they don’t get the protection the law offers.
That’s probably why there’s been a settlement in an Oregon lawsuit following the killing of one woman.
Named as defendants in the suit is an Oregon pawn shop, World Pawn Exchange, and J&G Sales, a popular online firearms retailer, in relation to the 2013 murder of 57-year-old Kirsten Englund at a highway rest stop. As announced Wednesday by the gun control group who spearheaded the litigation in a series of Oregon courts, the firearm dealers will make “significant business reforms” and pay a settlement “in excess of $750,000.”
In 2013, Jeffrey Boyce, 30, of North Bend, Oregon, shot and killed Kirsten Englund and then drove to California in an attempt to seek political asylum at the Russian Consulate in San Francisco. But Boyce was arrested after a car theft and hanged himself in jail. Englund’s family later sued Diane Boyce, the killer’s mother, in Multnomah County Circuit Court, arguing that he bought two handguns from J&G but she picked up the shipped guns for him at World Pawn under her name as her son was barred from firearms ownership. Boyce later settled her case for $400,000 and agreed to testify against the gun dealers for her role in the purchase.
Brady, seeking $9 million in damages, argued that Jeffrey Boyce’s name appeared on the invoice for the firearms from the retailer and his credit card was used to pay for them but his mother was allowed to transfer the firearms into her name at the pawn shop where they were shipped, thus making J&G and World Pawn negligent in the sale and later transfer.
“If it were not so easy for a dangerously mentally troubled killer to obtain a gun on the Internet, Kirsten Englund would be alive today, with her two sons and loving family,” said Jonathan Lowy, Brady’s vice president of litigation.
As part of the settlement, J&G Sales will update their training manuals and work to update its invoicing system to better flag “suspicious” purchases.
That said, I don’t see where J&G did anything wrong. They shipped the gun to the name and address provided. It’s up to the FFL who receives it to verify the person isn’t prohibited from owning firearms. J&G had no way of doing that from their end.
However, the big question that I have is just why in the hell is Diane Boyce not in prison herself?
She admits to making a straw purchase for someone she knew damn well couldn’t. While she made her own settlement in the civil case, her actions were criminal. I find it odd that in a situation like this, which is spearheaded by a gun control group, we don’t see any push to enforce laws that are already on the books.
It’s almost like they don’t care about seeing current laws enforced, just trying to create new ones. Funny, that.
Either way, it seems clear that J&G did absolutely nothing illegal or immoral based on the information available here. I’m also not convinced that World Pawn did anything wrong either. A simple, “Oh, I bought it, but I bought it for my mom,” may have been said and said so sincerely that whoever it was who made the transfer had no reason to disbelieve it.
That said, it may well have been cheaper to settle the case than to continue to fight it. Court cases are expensive and can drag on for years and years. In the case of fighting a gun control group, often their attorneys are True Believers who are working pro bono, making it virtually impossible to outlast them.
Hopefully, this isn’t enough to put too bad of a hurt on either business.