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? Nevertheless, the fact that both a State Supreme Court justice and an appellate court allowed the case to proceed is likely to ripple through the retail firearms industry. If the case makes it to trial and King’s parents win, it’s easy to envision it precipitating more of the types of marketplace constrictions that anti-gun politicians can only dream about. [full article]