Monday, August 07, 2017

Gun Store Owner Settles with Statement after 5 years of Lawsuit by Gun Control Group

In 2012, a mentally ill man named Benjamin Bishop shot and killed his mother and her boyfriend in cold blood. He was forbidden from owning a gun or ammunition, but a friend Matthew Schwab purchased the gun for him at a local gun shop. 

The Brady lawsuit alleged that Bishop attempted to buy a gun at the shop before his friend purchased the shotgun for him.

There does not appear to be any evidence that Bishop had been turned down for a background check at the store. From
Tanso vehemently denied Bishop ever tried to buy a gun in his store. He said there is no record his name was ever submitted for a background check from the store, and added that Bishop was 17 at the time and could not have been sold a firearm.

Bishop asked an 18-year-old neighbor to buy a gun and went with him to the store, the complaint states. The shop sold the neighbor a 12-gauge shotgun, the complaint states.

Tanso says Bishop’s friend lied on the government form, saying he was buying the gun for himself. Tanso said the teen said he wanted to use the gun at a shooting range, which Tanso said is typical for an 18-year-old. Tanso said Bishop was with his friend at the time of the purchase, but store employees had no reason to question him because they had never seen him before.
Lock N Load is a large gun store. It is quite likely that the store employee who sold the gun to Schwab had never seen Bishop before, even if he had previously been in the store. 

Local papers treated the claim that Bishop had been turned down in the store as if it were fact: From
A Lock N Load employee initially refused to sell to him after learning he had a criminal record, according to investigators. So Bishop came back with a friend, Oldsmar resident Matthew Schwab, who bought the gun for him.
Bishop couldn't legally buy the gun because he had a criminal record and had even been turned away from Lock N Load when he attempted to buy one while on probation earlier that fall, according to the lawsuit. But in October, Bishop returned to Lock N Load with his neighbor, Matthew Schwab, 18, the lawsuit states. Schwab bought the shotgun with $279 in cash and then turned it over to Bishop, who told him he needed it to defend himself from gang members. Schwab never faced charges. states on clear falsehood. They say that the firearm sold was a "sawed-off, 12 gauge shotgun". From TBO:
Bishop's father, Joey Bishop, and his maternal grandmother, Jean Allen, are listed as plaintiffs on the Brady Center's lawsuit, which says Tanso should be held liable for the mentally ill teen obtaining the sawed-off, 12-gauge shotgun used in the killings.
No other reporter, in numerous articles, ever alleged that the shotgun was "sawed-off". 

No federal charges were brought against the gun store owner. It seems unlikely that federal investigators would have let the store go unprosecuted in the Obama era, if there were any evidence to back up the claim in the lawsuit.  The alleged straw buyer was not prosecuted as part of his agreement to act as a state witness. The idea that a cooperative straw buyer would not implicate the store where he committed the crime, if there were any thing to implicate, seems absurd.

The Brady lawsuit against the gun store owner dragged on for five years. The settlement was reached after Donald Trump was elected president.  The terms of the settlement have not all been revealed. The store was sold to another owner, and will continue in business. No extra-statutory restrictions have been placed on the operation of the store.  The former store owner, Gerald Tanso, has agreed not to obtain another federal firearms license in the future.  In effect, he sold his business and retired at age 61.

The gun control group attorney has attempted to make the settlement into a victory. The attorney says that Tanso has agreed to make a public statement. From
Tanso's statement says, in part: "Our Second Amendment protects the rights of law abiding citizens and we must protect those rights. At the same time, we must exercise great caution and due diligence with great responsibility in preventing firearms from getting in the wrong hands of people who seek to harm us all. I support laws that protect our Second Amendment and the laws that protect our society from criminal elements who would abuse that right to the detriment of others. I encourage all gun dealers, including the new owner of my gun shop, to implement such measures."
The full actual statement does not appear to have been made public at this time.

Large gun stores near urban areas have large numbers of guns that are eventually traced to criminal use. The reason is statistically clear. Large gun stores sell lots of guns. Urban centers have lots of crime. Criminals figure ways to get guns through theft or having friends or family purchase them illegally.

Most gun stores are small operations in rural areas. Simply by existing, urban area gun shops end up having the highest numbers of guns that are traced to crimes.

The anti-Second Amendment groups characterize these large gun shops near urban areas as "bad apple" gun stores, even though the stores keep scrupulous records and are extremely careful to follow the law.

My take on the recent events? The gun store owner had been worn down by five years of frivolous litigation. The Brady bunch knew they had a losing suit, especially after President Trump was elected and Jeff Sessions was the AG.  They could not expect moral support for their losing cause from the White House and the Attorney General.

Both sides settled with a face saving agreement. The Brady bunch gets a generic statement about preventing guns from getting to criminals. Gerald Tanso gets to sell his store and retire.

We will likely never know the exact terms of the settlement. It is common for such settlements to include a non-disclosure agreement. It will be interesting to see the precise wording of the statement from former gun store owner Gerald Tanso.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch

No comments: