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Badger Guns owner Adam Allan (courtesy

Milwaukee’s Badger Guns [owner Adam Allan, above] sells legal products legally. Some of their customers use their legally purchased firearms illegally. And? People who buy cars legally sometimes use the car illegally (e.g., drunk driving, vehicular manslaughter). That simple logic and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act should keep anyone from prosecuting or suing a Federal Firearms Licensee for a criminal act involving a gun legally purchased from a commercial gun dealer. And so it has. Except where it hasn’t. Specifically, Badger Guns . . .

In 2010, former police officers Bryan Norberg and Graham Kunisch sued Badger Guns and its predecessor, Badger Outdoors, for selling a firearm to the criminal who gunned them down. The civilian disarmament folks at the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence joined the case, providing financial and legal support. For some reason, the case has been allowed to proceed. The trial was scheduled to begin Monday and last three weeks. And then . . .

A long-awaited trial pitting two wounded Milwaukee police officers against the gun store that sold the weapon used to shoot them has been delayed after attorneys from a national gun control group posted information online that the judge had ruled inadmissible . . .

Milwaukee County Judge Jeffrey Conen on Monday allowed attorneys Jonathan Lowy and Alla Lefkowitz of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to withdraw from the case . . .

Conen ordered Brady to pay $800 to Milwaukee County, the cost of paying 100 jurors who were called for jury selection for half a day. It was an extra large pool, more than double what judges typically summon.

The Brady attorneys agreed to leave the case after it was disclosed that the organization posted information over the weekend that Conen had ruled inadmissible. Brady has since taken down the information in question, and it was not disclosed in open court. Conen discussed the matter off the record with attorneys in his chambers before coming into open court and making brief comments on the record, according to a transcript.

What “information” did the Bradys divulge? Not specified.

As part of’s “wiped clean” Watchdog series (“For two years, the Journal Sentinel has investigated how Congress has created special rules for gun stores that protect even the biggest sellers of guns to criminals”) the paper’s most recent story reveals that the Judge in the case upbraided Brady’s lawyers for the breach.

In court Monday, [Judge] Conen admonished Lowy for the conduct and ordered the lawyers not to discuss any more of the materials in public “contrary to the laws of ethics or the rules of ethics in the state of Wisconsin.”

“I don’t how things are practiced in Washington, D.C., or New York or anywhere else, but out here in the Midwest we have certain rules. … This is something that cannot be done, and it cannot be done through surrogates,” Conen said, according to the transcript. “The whole idea is to have a fair trial for absolutely everyone.”

Unless the remaining lawyer can prove criminal negligence, Badger Guns will most likely walk away from this debacle. But not before their reputation has been impugned and their business threatened. [h/t JP]

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    • I generally agree.

      A bit of searching turned up this (partial) old summary at the Brady website:

      “Kunisch & Norberg v. Badger Guns (Wisconsin)

      The weapons used to shoot all six Milwaukee police officers wounded by gunfire between 2007 and 2009 were sold by Badger Guns, a notorious Milwaukee gun dealer that led the nation in crime gun sales before ATF revoked its license.”

      It could have been the “used to shoot all six” point above, or the “led the nation in crime gun sales” reference. Either or both of these claims sound to me like they would not likely be admissable at trial, and the Brady group would probably love to “poison” the jury pool by spreading claims of this sort out in the general media.

      (The linked article is no longer on the Brady website page at that URL; I used the Google cached version, which can be seen at )

      IIRC, in the complaint, it was alleged that the eventual buyer actually brought the prohibited person into the shop with him, the non-buying perp picked out the gun, and the buyer even originally indicated he was NOT the actual buyer on the 4473, but was convinced to change it by someone in the shop. If true (BIG “if”) and supported by evidence, that would explain why the suit was allowed to go forward. The law protecting dealers (linked in the article above) still allows some suits under certain circumstances (quoted from link): “However, both manufacturers and dealers can still be held liable for damages resulting from defective products, breach of contract, criminal misconduct, and other actions for which they are directly responsible…”

  1. I know I bought one of my GLOCKs, a Gen 2 G35, from Badger Guns. That was about 16 years ago. I filled out my paperwork, showed my ID, passed my background, and got my gun. I was told not to buy from them because they had a “bad reputation.”

    Even then, I wasn’t naive enough to care about such things. I still haven’t seen any actual proof that Badger Guns has done anything which could be construed as criminal negligence.

    I’m disgusted that the police officers are suing them.

    • Unless it was some kind of a Frankenpistol assembled from parts, I’m guessing your G35 has (or had) finger-grooves on the frame, which makes it a Gen3.

  2. The one point as I understand it is that the whole case centers on whether Badger *knowingly* sold firearms to straw purchasers contrary to federal/state/local law. If this can’t be proven, then case closed.

    • True but if that is the case then I see why it is proceeding- while a gun seller cannot be held liable if it ‘follows the rules’ it’s another story if it knowingly subverts or breaks them.

      A high bar to prove but the argument is possible.

  3. While their reputation may have been “impugned” in regards to the general pubic, for me personaly, the reputation of any gun store, retailer, or manufacturer who fights the Brady bunch, regardless of outcome is enhanced. The fact that they put time money and effort into fighting them is not lost on me, even if they did not choose the fight, and it makes me want to pateonize them and support them that much more. best of luck to them also, hopefuly they get to walk away from this ridiculous case.

    • If your doing “something” that puts you on a anti-liberty groups poop list, but not on a pro-liberty groups poo list AND is not a criminal offense, then your doing something worth doing.

  4. If everything was done in accordance with the law, how is this case proceeding and who does Badger need to sue for legal fees?

    • Excellent question, Mike. Here’s where The Truth About Guns gets a little too cheerlead-y about guns, and misses crucial elements of the story.

      Norberg and Kunisch (the plaintiff police officers) say that Badger knew or reasonably should have known that selling the .40 caliber handgun to Collins (the alleged straw buyer) was illegal.

      According to court documents, Collins and Burton (the shooter) entered the store together, Burton picked out which gun he wanted, and Collins even wrote that he was not the actual buyer of the weapon while completing a Firearms Transaction Board form, according to the complaint.

      “Rather than terminate the sale and contact police about this unlawful straw purchase attempt, Badger Guns conspired with Collins to change his answer to claim falsely that he was the actual buyer of the gun,” it reads.

      If that’s true, then Badger has violated its duty to the public to abide by the firearms laws, as they swore to do as part of their federal firearms license application. No wonder the ATF has since pulled their license, though the brother has since reopened the store in the same location under a new name and license.

      Moreover, by actively assisting in the straw purchase, if true, then Badger is part of the overall conspiracy and criminal enterprise. It is this combination negligence and criminal collaboration that is the basis of the plaintiffs’ case. The case isn’t based on the premise, as TTAG sensationally suggests, that “Badger lawfully sold a perfectly legal product, with which someone else subsequently and independently committed a crime… somehow Badger’s at fault.”

  5. I, and nearly every other Wisconsin native or resident will tell you that SE Wisconsin is essentially Northern Chicago/Illinois, unfortunately.

    • +1

      Have you checked the news over these past few months in Milwaukee? It’s like Sodom and Gomorrah

      And yes I’m a Milwaukee resident, sad rimes in the city

  6. I live in Milwaukee and frequented the former establishment known as Badger Guns and Ammo (now called Brew City Shooters Supply) I can say with certainty the guys that work their now and back then always obey the law when dealing with firearms sales. They did their part what happened after the firearms were legally transferred they would have little to no ability to do anything about it. It was a witch hunt plain and simple somebody needed to be the bad guy. Don’t quote me on this but I recall that at the time all of this went down of all the surrounding counties Milwaukee County was the only county that would trace the purchase origin of firearms used in crimes. If the purchasers were in good legal standing at the time of purchase this case should be thrown out. What’s funny is that the business was sold to one of the other brothers in the family and the business is going strong. The only real difference now is that you have to be a member of their range club to purchase firearms. How do you become a member? Pay $25, demonstrate you know the major working components of a firearm (muzzle, trigger, slide, etc) and shoot ten shots into a big bullseye target at 7 yards (for all intents and purposes just hit the paper).

    • Ralph, you win!

      I used to go here when I lived in Milwaukee. I do not know if I got special treatment, but I was lied to on several occasions (You need to buy this Sig now because Sig is no longer going to be imported into the US, for example).

  7. Frankly, with “gun laws” in the treasonous condition that they are, I don’t care if they were broken or not. Even so, this case itself is a violation of those laws which are a violation of the constitution… No matter what rule you make, The State will violate it… You can indict a ham sandwich. You can sue a fart in the wind… Dollars to Donuts, they know damn well the case won’t fly, they just want to hurt him/anybody, and it costs them nothing to do it.

    I’m hoping for those magic words; Dismissed WITH PREJUDICE.

  8. I’m guessing that Brady’s claim that the store “advised the buyer to alter the 4473 in order to enable the straw purchase” was inadmissible & Brady still floated it out there to taint the potential jury pool???
    Without this there basically is nothing.

  9. I used to shop there all the time when I lived in Milwaukee. The store is down the street from the Brewers stadium. Nice place with low prices. I do have to mention that the store has kind of stigma attached to it. Its been in the news alot for criminals getting their guns there (legally). I remember a story in the Milwaukee Journal citing a study that said a majority of guns recovered by police were purchased at Badger Guns. Even the owners seemed surprised.

  10. Imagine how much clearer this issue would be if ATF would stop calling traced guns “crime guns”. The number of traces is the result of so many irrelevancies that it becomes meaningless. Calling them ‘crime guns” implies that they caused or were recovered at a crime. Further, it implies that the crime was a serious or violent one. None of which is true. Trace rates are often driven by local police policies that require every gun to be traced regardless of how it came into their possession. Since other jurisdictions don’t have the same policy the numbers are skewed. Brady Campaign ignores this very simple fact. Much of Brady’s politics are based on this lie and perpetuated by the moral outrage they can muster with it.


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