This week hasn’t been the best when it comes to the Second Amendment and courtrooms. After all, we have the settlement in the Sandy Hook case. That is potentially damaging to gun rights in ways that we’re only beginning to consider.
However, in a much lower profile court case, a gun store won in a lawsuit filed by two police officers who were shot.
A judge has found in favor of Chester Arms in Derry and the state Department of Safety in the lawsuit filed against them by two Manchester police officers who were shot and wounded in May 2016.
Manchester Police Officers Ryan Hardy and Matthew O’Connor both recovered and returned to work. They argued negligence and said their assailant should have never been able to buy a gun.
The shooter, Ian MacPherson, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was sentenced to five years in the secure psychiatric unit.
Hardy and O’Connor argued in Rockingham County Superior Court that MacPherson should not have been able to purchase the gun from Chester Arms because of his history of mental illness and criminal history.
If the guy had such a history, clearly Chester Arms did something wrong, right?
While the delay was still in place but after the required three business days, on April 1, 2016, MacPherson returned to Chester Arms and purchased the firearm and on May 13, 2016, he used the weapon to shoot the Manchester police officers, Ruoff wrote.
What the officers alleged in their lawsuit was that the gun store should have access to more information so as to make a better determination with regard to who can buy a gun and who can’t.
While that may or may not be true, the truth of the matter is that no gun store gets to make that call. As the judge pointed out, that’s a legislative issue, not a civil one. You can’t reasonably sue someone because they didn’t take steps they’re legally not allowed to take.
That’s what this lawsuit was really about, at its core.
Of course, it likely wouldn’t have mattered.
You see, while the individual had a history of mental illness and criminal history, none of it appears to have been sufficient to make him ineligible to own a firearm.
The Gun Line had delayed the sale to conduct further research regarding MacPherson’s misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.
“The reports showed that none of MacPherson’s ‘NICS hits’ disqualified him from taking possession of the firearm because they did not meet a victim relationship requirement prescribed by federal law,” Ruoff wrote.
That’s why the background check was delayed in the first place.
It remained delayed until the shooter was indicted, as a matter of fact.
But to blame the gun store for not having access to certain information and following all relevant laws is beyond idiotic.
I get that these officers experienced a great deal of pain, probably both physical and emotional. They got shot in the line of duty and should be respected for that.
None of that means, though, that they get to just make up requirements for gun stores–requirements based on information the store did not have access to–and expect them to be followed due to the benefit of hindsight.
That’s just not how it works.
I hate that they went through this, but that wasn’t justification to drag a gun store through a court battle over something any competent attorney should have told them was losing cause.
Frankly, I applaud Chester Arms for not folding and settling out of court.