The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) today lauded a West Virginia court ruling reinforcing the notion that gun makers operating in a legal manner, selling legal products should not be penalized for the illegal acts of people outside their control.

“While we sympathize with former Orange, N.J. police officers Kenneth McGuire and Dave Lemongello, who were victims of a horrible shooting, there are ample court precedents that clearly establish they were not entitled to damages from the manufacturer,” said SAF Founder Alan Gottlieb.

The now-retired officers had sued Sturm, Ruger & Co. of Southport, CT after they were shot by a criminal using a Ruger handgun in 2001. The gunman, Shuntez Everett, was killed in the gunfight. The gun had been originally sold to a federally-licensed wholesale distributor, then sold by the distributor to a federally-licensed retailer. The pistol was purchased legally by a West Virginia resident. Only after a series of transactions did the handgun wind up in New Jersey. A South Charleston, WV pawnshop sold the gun to cab driver Tammi Songer in an apparent straw man purchase for James Gray, a convicted felon, who took the handgun to New Jersey, where it eventually wound up in Everett’s possession. Gray and Songer served time in prison for their crime. The pawn shop settled for $1 million in June.

“Sturm, Ruger violated no laws, and had nothing to do with the transaction that ultimately put the gun in Everett’s hands,” Gottlieb stated. “To hold Sturm, Ruger responsible for their injuries would be like holding Ford responsible for a car crash caused by a convicted drunk driver who had someone else buy the car second-hand for him from a used-car dealer in another state.

“Kanawha County Circuit Judge Irene Berger made the proper decision,” Gottlieb stated. “The person ultimately responsible for the shooting was the gunman, and he’s dead.

“It is insidious to think that the manufacturer of any legal product, including a firearm, could be held liable for the deliberate criminal misuse of that product after it had changed hands so many times,” Gottlieb continued. “Such lawsuits only provide false hopes to crime victims while doing nothing to hold the real criminals responsible.”

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