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Posted: 9/9/2004 8:08:24 AM EDT
Bushmaster settles sniper lawsuit.


Gunmaker settles sniper lawsuit

Gun dealer also settles with victims' families

Thursday, September 9, 2004 Posted: 9:59 AM EDT (1359 GMT)

SEATTLE, Washington (AP) -- Victims of the Washington, D.C.-area sniper shootings and their families have settled claims against the maker of the gun used in the spree and its dealer for $2.5 million, an agreement the plaintiffs' lawyer said would change practices in the firearms industry.

Bushmaster Firearms of Windham, Maine, agreed to pay $550,000 to eight plaintiffs. Bull's Eye Shooter Supply of Tacoma, the gun dealer where the snipers' Bushmaster rifle came from, agreed to pay $2 million.

The settlement with Bushmaster marks the first time a gun manufacturer has agreed to pay damages to settle claims of negligent distribution of weapons, said Jon Lowy, a lawyer with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Lowy, who helped argue the case, also said the settlement with Bull's Eye Shooter Supply is the largest against a gun dealer.

"These settlements send a loud and clear message that the gun industry cannot turn a blind eye to how criminals get their guns," Lowy said.

A judge will determine how to divide the settlement among two people who were injured in the shootings and the families of six people who were killed.

Seattle attorney Paul Luvera represented the victims' families. He called the settlement "historic" and said it should change practices in the firearms industry.

"When a manufacturer makes a large settlement like this one, it is an example to other manufacturers," Luvera said.

Kelly Corr, the attorney representing Bushmaster, said the company made "no admission of liability whatsoever" and that the settlement was an economic decision.

He said Bushmaster and its insurance company, which will pay the $550,000, decided to settle rather than continuing to run up legal fees. Corr said the settlement will not change the way Bushmaster conducts business.
"Bushmaster believes it is a responsible manufacturer," he said.

As part of the settlement, though, Bushmaster agreed to educate its dealers on gun safety.

A federal investigation determined the rifle was one of 200 or more guns missing from Bull's Eye that the owner at the time, Brian Borgelt, could not account for.

Borgelt, a former Army ranger and military sniper instructor, said he had been conducting his own internal investigation for two years. He sold Bull's Eye last year but still operates a shooting range at the store near the Tacoma Dome.

"We just decided, it being a no-win situation for us any way you sliced it, that it would be best to settle and get something in the way of relief for the victims and the victims' families, the poor people who survived this," Borgelt said.

John Allen Muhammad, 43, was convicted and sentenced to death for murder in one of the 10 fatal shootings in October 2002 in the Washington, D.C.-area. His coconspirator, 19-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo, was tried separately, convicted of murder in a different death and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

They used a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, a civilian version of the military M-16.

The civil lawsuit alleged that at least 238 guns, including the snipers' rifle, disappeared from the gun shop in the three years before the shooting rampage. Despite audits by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms showing that Bull's Eye had dozens of missing guns, Bushmaster continued to use the shop as a dealer and provided it with as many guns as the owners wanted, the lawsuit alleged.

"It appears that 17-year-old Malvo was able to stroll into this gun store and stroll out carrying a 3-foot-long, $1,000 Bushmaster assault rifle," Lowy said. "Bull's Eye should have taken reasonable care to prevent guns from being stolen. Bushmaster should have required Bull's Eye to implement simple, reasonable security measures."

The victims' lawsuit, filed in January 2003, also names Malvo and Muhammad as defendants. Those claims are technically still pending, although they are unlikely to be resolved.

A bill was proposed in Congress earlier this year that would have given the firearms industry immunity from lawsuits such as this one. Despite strong support from President Bush, it died in the Senate.
Link Posted: 9/9/2004 8:09:52 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/9/2004 8:19:35 AM EDT
what were they thinking?

time to sue McD's for making us fat now. And sue the TV manufacturers for making us couch potatoes. Fricken rediculous.
Link Posted: 9/9/2004 8:20:11 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Wobblin-Goblin:

more like dupe x10

Link Posted: 9/9/2004 8:21:29 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/9/2004 8:22:40 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/9/2004 8:23:08 AM EDT
(sung to the tune of "Zipity-do-dah")

Dupe-ity dupe DUPE
Dupe-ity Dayyyy
My oh my it's a Dupe-ity dayyyy
Link Posted: 9/9/2004 8:24:54 AM EDT
This is not justice. It's plain greed on the families part. I in no way dishonnor the people killed by the DC Snipers but.....................Bushmaster was not to blame.
Link Posted: 9/9/2004 8:25:52 AM EDT
Whether a dupe or not… this is probably the beginning of the end of the US civilian gun industry.

This is exactly the way the tobacco industry was destroyed; once the gates were open the flood was on. This is an invitation for lawyers to file suits against all gun makers.
Link Posted: 9/9/2004 8:26:46 AM EDT

Unless a lawyer can prove that Bushmaster was negligent in selling their guns, and INTENTIONALLY they decided to sell their guns to a gun dealer they knew was selling guns to criminals, I do not see ANY WAY in which Bushmaster is liable for crimes committed with their guns.

I see more the intention to settle the issue and to avoid bad advertising. From my point of view they surrendered.

Boycott Bushmaster.

They gave up to be not fucked up and so doing they are going to fuck up too...

Link Posted: 9/9/2004 8:27:45 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:
Whether a dupe or not… this is probably the beginning of the end of the US civilian gun industry.

This is exactly the way the tobacco industry was destroyed ; once the gates were open the flood was on. This is an invitation for lawyers to file suits against all gun makers.

I agree - it sucks that nobody sells cigarettes anymore!
Link Posted: 9/9/2004 8:28:26 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/9/2004 8:28:26 AM EDT by The_Beer_Slayer]
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