Cabela's Sued Over Ammo Purchase

Federal law states that people can’t be sued for engaging in lawful trade of guns and ammo. Oh, if someone breaks the law or if the products are faulty, that’s different, but just for engaging in lawful trade? Nope.


Of course, that doesn’t stop lawsuits from happening. Usually, they’re thrown out, but an anti-gun court decision against Remington didn’t just hurt the company, it’s likely to hurt the entire gun industry as now the vultures are out and about. Since a judge ruled that the lawsuit against Remington could continue, they’re hoping other judges will follow suit.

To that end, it seems that outdoor retailer Cabela’s is under the gavel for an ammunition sale in New York.

At the same time that gun sales have skyrocketed as more Americans reach for a firearm to protect themselves from threats real and perceived, warning shots abound that should have gun rights advocates on edge.

The latest is the court ruling allowing a lawsuit against the Cabela’s store in Cheektowaga to proceed after it sold ammunition to then- 19-year-old Jake Klocek, who used it in a handgun to accidentally kill 19-year-old Anthony King, a friend he’d invited over while housesitting for an Elma couple.

The suit by the victim’s family contends that Cabela’s – a defendant along with Klocek and the Elma couple – “knew or should have known its failure to use reasonable care” in selling the ammunition to someone like Klocek would result in serious injury or death.

But that claim hinges on the fact that Klocek, under 21 at the time, could not legally buy handgun ammunition.

However, he could legally buy long gun ammunition. And as Cabela’s attorneys point out, the ammunition in question – .45 ACP – can be used in both handguns and rifles. If the clerk asks and the buyer says it’s for a rifle, how is the store supposed to know, short of having a polygraph machine at every register?


That last part is particularly important. After all, .45 ACP carbines actually are a thing. In fact, a number of people age 18-21 will purchase a carbine in their preferred handgun caliber, often using the same magazines as the handgun they intend on purchasing, and stock up on magazines and ammo prior to turning 21.

And it’s perfectly legal.

Unfortunately, what’s happening here is that we have judges hearing cases on subjects they know absolutely nothing about. In fairness, there’s no way to avoid that happening. The problem, though, is that now we end up with a lawsuit continuing based on a bad argument.

Federal law prohibits handgun ammo purchases, sure, but so long as the ammo can go in a long gun, it counts as long gun ammunition. Pistol-caliber carbines are common and actually popular options for home defense among many aged 18-21 in part because they’re long guns but have ballistics similar to a handgun, which means less chance of over-penetration compared to a conventional rifle but are lighter recoiling than shotguns.

And that’s where the problem with this lawsuit comes into play.

What really bothers me is that unless Cabela’s attorneys are able to make their case at trial, we could see the end of pistol-caliber carbines for people in that particular age group. On the other hand, Second Amendment organizations are challenging some of the laws restricting the right to keep and bear arms for adults under the age of 21, so there’s also a real chance that SCOTUS could end up ruling that adults of all ages are on an equal footing when it comes to the exercise of their Second Amendment rights.


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