Gun Store Must Pay $5 Million for Shooting Involving two Milwaukee Police Officers

A Milwaukee gun store was found liable in the shooting of two police officers, who claimed in their lawsuit that the gun store was negligent when it sold a handgun to a straw purchaser who then gave the firearm to an 18-year-old, reports CBS affiliate WDJT.

Back in 2009, Officers Graham Kunish and Bryan Norberg stopped Julius Burton, 18, for riding his bike on the sidewalk. The confrontation turned physical, and Burton drew a gun and shot both officers.

Norberg was shot in the mouth. Kunisch in the head, and as a result lost and eye and had part of his brain removed.

Investigators traced the firearm to Badger Gun store. Burton paid a friend $40 to purchase the firearm for him, as he was too young to legally possess it.

Surveillance footage from the store shows the clerk, Donald Flora, helping the straw purchaser fill out the paperwork, as CBS News’ Adriana Diaz reported.

Flora claimed during the trial that he didn’t know the customer was a straw purchaser.

“The last thing we want to do is put a gun in somebody’s hands that’s going to commit a crime,” said Flora on the stand.

Yet, despite Flora’s insistence that he didn’t know he was selling the gun to a straw purchaser, the jury found Badger Guns liable and awarded Norberg $1.5 million and Kunisch $3.5 million.

It didn’t help Badger Guns that prosecutors provided data showing that in 2005 more than 500 guns recovered at crime scenes were traced back to the store, making it “the number one crime gun dealer in America,” according to court documents.

Whatever one thinks about the Badger Guns incident as a stand alone case is one thing, but the larger implications it may have for other gun stores and gun manufacturers is concerning. Under federal law, gun manufacturers and dealers are immune to civil liability resulting from the “the misuse of their products by others.”

Seemingly, the ruling in this Badger Guns case directly challenges that law, known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was signed into law in 2005. For perspective and clarification on the matter, GunsAmerica reached out to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade organization.

“The verdict shows that despite recent attacks by Hillary Clinton, including as recently as this week’s debate, on the PLCAA, the law worked exactly as Congress intended. Where a dealer has violated a law or regulation pertaining to the sale of firearms, like allegedly knowingly selling to a straw purchaser as was alleged in the Badger case, they can be sued,” said Larry Keane, senior vice president, assistant secretary and general counsel to the NSSF.

“What the PLCAA essentially does is to codify common law and say where a manufacturer or retailer lawfully sells a non-defective product they cannot be sued for the subsequent criminal misuse of the product by a third party over whom the manufacture or retailer has no control. The PLCAA passed both Houses of Congress by overwhelming bipartisan majorities,” Keane explained. “Approximately 36 state legislatures passed similar state tort reform laws to block such lawsuits before Congress enacted the PLCAA.”

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • www January 27, 2017, 8:23 am

    the chief problem here is deterrence. there is none. a death penalty would drastically reduce these incidents. a black guy shot a white cop in the face in my city too, our cop died. that was over ten years ago and the case is still dragging through the courts costing taxpayers millions. criminals know they can shoot and kill cops, people, or anything that moves more or less and all it means is they won’t have to work for awhile. this is a result of the liberals making life easier for their constituents. be nice to the nice murderer, go after the working, law abiding citizen. they tend to vote less democrats so nothing lost there. this gun store employee, while that was STUPID, may have been afraid if he halted the purchase to a black then he would have been accused of “profiling” and guilty of a hate crime and the “human rights” commission would have moved in since they have nothing else to do. and who knows maybe this whole thing was a set up kind of like fast and furious and newtown. all to go after gun owners and dealers.

  • BILL BENNETT October 20, 2015, 10:05 pm


  • Larry Koehn October 19, 2015, 4:26 pm

    Advice to Badger Guns: Don’t do the crime if you can’t pay the fine. If there is video showing a store clerk helping to correct a truthful answer that would have stopped the sale then the store deserves exactly what it got. If a store sold 500 guns that appeared at crime scenes how did they keep their FFL? I think that BATFE should have to split the fine for negligence.

    • Sam July 29, 2016, 7:38 am

      I went back over the story and on the CBS news site and I can’t find where it says the dealer helped change a mistake on the form.
      And it would not be unusual for a wholesaler to sell that many guns, but it does depend on if the guns referenced were sold directly from that store to individuals or if they simply originated from there and were transfered by other dealers.
      All firearms must be sent to a licensed dealer for transfer if ordered on-line, they cannot be delivered straight to a customer.

  • paperboy October 19, 2015, 2:38 pm

    look at the store video. the straw buyer had the real purchaser standing on his hip. the straw buyer even checkmarked he was buying it for someone else and the clerk “helpfully” had him mark it out and select the “correct” box.
    Instead of crying about this gun owners should be applauding the jury saying “this was so obvious a blind man could have seen it”
    the clerk HELPED them break the law.
    again, watch the store video.

    • John October 20, 2015, 1:30 am

      Where is the video you are talking about? I looked for it but I could not find it. I did find a written description of the case that said it was “claimed” that the store clerk told the straw purchaser to change the mark but nowhere did the article discuss a video proving the clerk did it. Maybe you just misunderstood.

    • Kenny Smith May 4, 2018, 7:28 pm

      What about the guy who actually bought the gun, shouldn’t he be responsible for at least part of the blame here. Someone who buys a gun for someone else that they know may likely be used in a crime should be punished also. Now if it is for a family member or someone similar as a gift , that is different. Responsible gun owners do not usually do anything even close to this mess. The bottom line is , a person intent on doing bodily harm to others did the crime here. The guy who sold the weapon didn’t do it, the guy that bought it didn’t even do it. The piece of low life scum that did shoot these men is responsible for this shooting. No, not the weapon. The piece of trash shooter is . Nuff said !!!!

  • Gary October 19, 2015, 2:08 pm

    The first question on the form is “are you the actual purchaser”! If answered yes, what is the gunstore supposed to do next, administer a lie detector test? The punk that bought and filled out the form should be sued and in jail, but in this country the guilty are the ones with the most money, thats who gets sued. What else chaps me is that it seemed like an escalated incident, getting into a physical altercation like that over a bike on a sidewalk. Are they just looking to get shot?

  • Tommy Barrios October 19, 2015, 11:57 am

    This lawsuit has NO LEGS!
    The SCOUTUS has already said gun manufacturers cannot be sued for improper use of their product and the same applies to the sellers!
    Imagine suing Walmart because someone went around killing folks with a kitchen utensil they sold!!

  • LAH053 October 19, 2015, 11:45 am

    Sure sounds like the ATF should have been looking at this store a long time ago instead of wasting time trying to destroy the publics’ right to secure ammo for sport shooting. 500 guns should have set off a whole lot of red lights and warning bells. I think that the ATF should have been the subject of the law suit as well they were obviously negligent in this case. A inspection of the stores guns sales is their responsibility and the fact 500 guns were purchased by straw purchasers should have had someone screaming at their lungs be it the store or the police in Milwaukee.

  • Doc Loch October 19, 2015, 10:27 am

    Why do none of the articles or news releases (including this one) give any information that could determine if the gun store actually broke any laws or did anything wrong. It is not wrong to sell a firearm. It is the sole responsibility of the purchaser to obey that law at that point. And if there is not sufficient evidence to give liability to the gun store, then they should have no liability. I agree with the above poster that our court system is a farce and because everyone (except those scamming it) can see this, this is a reason that mass violence will increase and people become more crazy and desperate. When one realizes organization and community are not providing stability one begins to go towards the idea that maybe Chaos will offer as much if not more freedom and stability. At least the Chaos will level the playing field to some degree is the logical thought process. I am concerned that we are literally DAYS from finding out!

  • Michael October 19, 2015, 10:26 am

    It will get overturned on appeal. There is no way a retailer can be held liable for what people do with their guns, knives, cars, etc.

    • Avon October 19, 2015, 12:10 pm

      Doubtful, the court case was not about how the gun was used after the sell. But rather how the gun store owner was complicit in circumventing the system of handling the sale of a firearm.

    • mtman2 October 19, 2015, 7:22 pm

      WE the People sure are waiting to see it get overturned, tho the facts on the actual sales must be proven legal ~!

      • Doc September 2, 2016, 2:28 pm

        Actually, the defendant does not have to prove the sale was legal. The prosecution has to prove it was illegal beyond a reasonable doubt.

    • Mitch October 19, 2015, 11:10 pm

      I agree, should we hold auto dealerships and manufacturers liable in an auto is sold to an alcoholic, drives intoxicated, and kills others while driving? NO! A dangerous precedent is being set here.

  • zeke October 19, 2015, 10:14 am

    500 fire arms from one store? Sounds like a Fast and Furious type sting to me.

    • Doc September 2, 2016, 2:30 pm

      They are also a wholesaler which means they buy direct from the manufacturer and sell to other dealers around the country. That is why the 500 firearms were traced back to them.

  • James M. October 17, 2015, 11:29 am

    If the figures are correct, something is wrong. 500 firearms in 2005 involved in crimes was linked to one store. It is hard to believe that statement. And if it was true, were the firearms stolen? Hard to believe everyone was a straw purchase. And here is the big thing. How long would our forefathers sit and twiddle their thumbs? How long would it take them to realize the puppet court that rules our land? Every day that goes by we allow our government more control. And we willingly give our freedoms away. While our president runs this country into the ground, and closer into the hands of the Russia and China. Mark my words. There will come a point of no return in this country. It has happened to all others in history. And is closer as each day passes. A once mighty and fair nation, is now corrupt and faltering. George Washington was not a prepper, he was a PATRIOT. Preppers think of themselves PATRIOTS think of others and their future.

    • Chief October 19, 2015, 12:23 pm

      Well said !

      • Dave Hicks October 23, 2015, 10:51 am

        Agree Well said. Blame the shooter no person or thing should be at fault for the actions of another.

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