This lawsuit against a gun shop sets a dangerous precedent

The Brady Campaign has gotten their hooks into a lawsuit which they feel might be the silver bullet in their effort to place further restrictions on the Second Amendment rights of Americans. It involves a truly tragic story out of Missouri, where a mentally ill woman named Colby Sue Weathers murdered her own father with a handgun she had recently purchased in a completely legal fashion. The family of the woman has now won a multi-million dollar settlement against the gun shop which sold her the firearm. The Washington Post brings us the story, indicating that it may be the template which opponents of gun rights can use in the future.

Janet Delana was desperate to stop her mentally ill adult daughter from buying another handgun.

Finally, Delana called the gun shop a few miles from her home, the one that had sold her daughter a black Hi-Point pistol a month earlier when her last disability check had arrived…

“I’m begging you,” Delana said through tears. “I’m begging you as a mother, if she comes in, please don’t sell her a gun.”

Colby Sue Weathers was mentally ill, but she had never been identified as a threat to herself or others by a judge or ordered to an extended mental hospital stay — which meant she could pass the background check for her gun…

An hour after leaving the gun store, Weathers was back home where her father sat at a computer with his back to her.

She shot.

Weathers planned to kill herself next but told a 911 operator: “I can’t shoot myself. I was going to after I did it, but I couldn’t bring myself to it.”

As with most liberal causes, the Brady campaign is seeking to exploit the tragedy experienced by this family for their own benefit. We see the same tactics used in the debate over illegal immigration, where liberal groups find the most heart wrenching example of a child being separated from their parent in an attempt to pluck at the sensitivities of voters. The case of Ms. Weathers is indeed a tragedy which should be a call for action, but not the sort which the Brady campaign is seeking.

Something went desperately wrong in Janet Delana’s family, but it wasn’t the fault of the gun shop. As the article documents, Colby Sue was not some marginal character with a few questionable incidents on her record. She had, by the family’s own admission, been in and out of mental hospitals on numerous occasions and demonstrated worrisome if not outright dangerous behavior. This is clearly not the sort of person who should be purchasing firearms. But whose responsibility is it? Colby Sue had people who cared about her and were clearly worried about both her safety and the safety of others. How is it then that this young woman was not brought before a court and adjudicated as mentally unbalanced? Even more to the point, she obviously was not receiving all the treatment that she needed to deal with her psychosis.

Had those steps been taken, a quick background check would have revealed that she was ineligible to purchase a weapon and the gun shop owner could have refused the sale. Having established that, let’s look at it from the perspective of the manager at the store. He receives a phone call from a distressed woman claiming that her daughter is crazy. The daughter then arrives looking to purchase a firearm, but passes the required background check with flying colors. If he refuses to serve her and she turns out to be competent, he can wind up in trouble of an entirely different kind. The manager has no way of knowing whether the woman on the phone is providing accurate information or is engaged in some sort of domestic dispute with her daughter and is just looking to cause trouble for her. These types of unofficial accounts are completely unreliable, which is why official court records are part of the process for clearing a background check.

The case of Colby Sue Weathers does highlight a problem, but it’s the fact that mental health services in this country are still woefully inadequate and the families of mentally ill persons need access to a lot more education and resources when dealing with their afflicted family members. The result of this lawsuit will unfortunately open the door to all sorts of additional mischief on the part of gun grabbers. Using this case as precedent, all they need to do is find out when someone is thinking of making a gun purchase and begin calling around to gun shops and making false claims that the person is “crazy.” This will put business owners in a quandary where they have no good options left while doing nothing to help the mentally ill who are truly in need of assistance.