A large retailer was selling muskets online. He stopped after a gunshot death in Ohio.
Last year, Bass Pro Shops and its Cabela’s subsidiary quietly halted internet and telephone sales of old-style revolvers and muskets, shutting down what gun violence experts called a loophole for those convicted of crime of illegally buying firearms.
The move came after a shooting death in 2016 in which an Ohio man who was legally prohibited from owning a firearm was still able to purchase a Civil War-era replica gun. by phone from Cabela’s. He then used it to shoot and kill his neighbor, according to a lawsuit filed by the neighbor’s family.
“Cabela’s instituted sweeping reforms to its marketing and sales practices to keep black powder pistols out of the reach of those with a violent history and others prohibited by law from owning a firearm,” said Jonathan Lowy, lawyer for the family and the chief. Brady’s lawyer: United Against Gun Violence, a group that promotes increased regulation of gun purchases.
The restriction on so-called black powder pistols is another example of major US retailers rethinking how easy they’ve made it easy for Americans to buy guns, especially online, after high-profile or preventable shootings.
While guns are still readily available to many Americans, changes have taken place at large retailers in recent years in response to gun violence. In 2019, Walmart halted the sale of some ammunition and weapons and asked its customers not to openly carry firearms in its stores.
Black powder firearms – named for the loose gunpowder that must be loaded into firearms – are a niche product that owners often buy as an unusual way to hunt or as a historic throwback to such an era. than revolutionary war.
Replicas are based on old technology but made with modern materials and under certain circumstances can be as deadly as modern firearms.
And in some places, black powder pistols are also one of the few ways that someone convicted of a felony can buy a gun. A 1968 federal law that otherwise prohibits people who have committed serious crimes from having a firearm has an exception that allows old style guns. State laws vary, with some states allowing criminals to buy them while others, like Ohio, do not, a situation that authorities say has sometimes led to illegal sales.
Now, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s say they only sell black powder guns in stores, forcing buyers to physically collect them in order to improve legal compliance. Labels on store websites reflect the change.
“We take compliance very seriously and are committed to complying with all local, state and federal laws,” Cabela said in a statement.
There is little published research on how often black powder firearms are used in violent crime. Reports about them are rare, but the Ohio case is not the only example. In 2004, a man from Pennsylvania purchased a replica of the 19th century black powder pistol from Cabela’s website and used it in a triple homicide, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In the Ohio case, authorities said Bryan Galliher died in 2016 after his neighbor shot him with a replica 1858 revolver he bought over the phone from Cabela’s. Galliher’s family filed a lawsuit in 2018, claiming Cabela should never have sold the gun to his neighbor because he was convicted of assault and was not eligible to purchase it under Ohio State law.
Cabela mailed the gun to the neighbor and did not ask him to perform a background check, a step that allegedly showed he was careful to enforce state law, according to the trial. He then sold her a powder loading kit, the costume says.
“Bryan Galliher would be alive today if Cabela’s had followed Ohio law to keep black powder pistols out of the hands of banned buyers,” Lowy said.
Cabela also agreed to pay Galliher’s family a “seven-figure sum” in a settlement approved by a judge in February, according to Brady.
Cabela confirmed the settlement of the lawsuit but declined to comment on the payment. The retailer said the settlement did not include any acknowledgment of wrongdoing on its part and that it had voluntarily and independently stopped online and phone sales after the lawsuit was filed, but before the settlement.
In court documents before the settlement, Cabela’s denied many of the prosecution’s allegations, including his duty not to sell black powder firearms to banned buyers in states such as Ohio. He said the sale legally took place in Nebraska, not Ohio, as that is where his call center and distribution warehouse are located. And he had asked that the lawsuit be dismissed because of a 2005 federal law that generally prohibits prosecution of firearms sellers for the criminal use of firearms. The judge, however, allowed most prosecutions to continue.
The settlement of the trial has not been reported before. Cabela’s said it changed black powder pistol sales last year, but it hasn’t received much attention beyond guns. online message boards, where some enthusiasts expressed confusion over the reason for the change.
Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s are two of America’s largest outdoor gear retailers. They controlled more than 20% of the hunting, camping and fishing market when the two companies merged in 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported.
An Ohio jury convicted Galliher’s neighbor Paul Claren of aggravated murder and illegal possession of firearms in 2017. argued self defense. A State Court of Appeal chased the murder conviction last year, citing inappropriate jury instructions, and a new trial is scheduled for August.