Here in the United States we have a tradition that goes back at least as long as I have been alive. When something bad happens to you or one of your family members the tradition is to find an organization that is both tangentially linked to the bad thing and wealthy and file a lawsuit against it. That is exactly what family members of four New York firefighters who were ambushed by a man with a firearm are doing:
The families of four New York state firefighters are suing St. Paul-based Gander Mountain, alleging that the retailer’s Rochester, N.Y.-area outlet could have prevented a “straw buyer” from purchasing the rifle that was turned over to a convicted killer and used on Christmas Eve 2012 to kill two firefighters and wound two others.
The lawsuit, which has the legal heft of prominent gun control advocates behind it, said the rifle used in the bloody ambush should never have been sold to 22-year-old Dawn Nguyen in 2010 with the eventual shooter at her side.
Along with payment to the families of punitive and compensatory damages, the suit seeks to have Gander Mountain reform its practices and employee training procedures to prevent these “straw purchasers.” The suit was filed Tuesday in state court in Rochester, N.Y.
How can Gander Mountain stop straw purchases? Preventing straw purchases requires the ability to read minds, which no human has as far as I know (although I sometimes suspect that my mother has such powers). There is no way for employees of Gander Mountain to know that a person purchasing a firearm isn’t doing so with the intention of giving that gun to a prohibited person. Even if, as this lawsuit insinuates, I go into Gander Mountain with a friend and purchase a gun there is no way for the employees involved with the transaction to know if I’m buying it for myself or to give to my friend.
In other words what this lawsuit is demanding is that Gander Mountain perform an impossible feat, which hopefully means that this lawsuit will be dismissed.
Thankfully the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act shields gun manufacturers and dealers from a lot of legal gold digging. But it doesn’t completely close the door as manufacturers and dealers can still be sued for selling defective products, breaching contracts, and performing criminal actions. Depending on how this legal gold digging is being justified the case may get thrown out or Gander Mountain may be dragged into a pointless lawsuit because it was unable to read one man’s mind.