Second lawsuit brought against Badger Guns cleared for trial

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The second of two lawsuits brought by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence on behalf of Milwaukee police officers against top crime gun dealer Badger Guns was cleared for a jury trial.

Judge Michael Guolee of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court denied Badger’s motion for summary judgment in Jose Lopez III & Alejandro Arce v. Badger Guns, Inc., et al. -- rejecting the gun dealer’s final attempt to end the case before trial.

Badger Guns sold the handgun used to shoot and critically wound Officers Lopez and Arce in November 2007. The officers filed suit against the dealer in October 2010.

The ruling follows a similar ruling in Bryan Norberg and Graham Kunisch v. Badger Guns, Inc., et al., a case filed by a different pair of Milwaukee police officers also shot with a gun sold by Badger, which was cleared for trial on January 30, 2014 by Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Conen.

Both pairs of officers are represented by Jonathan Lowy, Director of the Legal Action Project at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and Patrick Dunphy of Cannon & Dunphy in Brookfield, WI.

“Today’s ruling is the latest in a growing list of courts across the country holding gun dealers accountable to victims if you choose to supply guns to the criminal market,” said Lowy. “Most gun dealers, like most gun owners, already act responsibly to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands, but this ruling sends a message to the small fraction of ‘bad apples’ that threaten our communities with their reckless and irresponsible business practices.”

Cannon & Dunphy and the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project filed suit on behalf of Officers Arce and Lopez on October 28, 2010.

The officers were shot on November 6, 2007 by Victor Veloz, a 15-year-old gang member, who fired a Taurus .9mm pistol that was purchased by fellow gang member Jose Fernandez from Badger Guns eight days before the shooting.

Fernandez had purchased an assault pistol from Badger, along with two high-capacity 30-round magazines and a flash suppressor, thirteen days before buying the Taurus.

Veloz shot the officers as they responded to an exchange of gunfire between Fernandez and Veloz and two rival gang members.

Veloz later said he thought their unmarked squad car held members of the rival gang.

Veloz shot Officer Arce in the leg, and Officer Lopez in the shoulder. Both men have continued pain from the shootings.

The complaint alleges that Badger Guns negligently and unlawfully sold the Taurus pistol to Fernandez despite his being an illegal drug user and straw purchaser.

Operating under the names Badger Guns, Badger Outdoors, and Badger Guns & Ammo, Badger ranked as the nation’s top dealer of guns traced to crime in several years before its license was revoked by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which regulates gun sellers.

The suit alleges that Badger sold more than 4,000 guns traced to crime, while most gun dealers in America sell no crime guns.