Milwaukee police chief: Reckless gun sales must be "punished"

MILWUAKEE -- When a Milwaukee jury saw surveillance video of a gun sale at a local store, and then saw two policemen shot with the same weapon given to an underage gunman, they found the store at fault.

"I am surprised at how easy it is to get a gun, and if you're organized and a decent liar, pretty much anyone can," juror Brett Heaton said. "So it is incumbent upon gun dealers to do everything they can to vet people when they come in."

Milwaukee gun shop found liable in officers' lawsuit

In 2005, Congress passed a law barring most lawsuits against gun manufacturers and sellers for the way buyers use their products. But there were exceptions involving negligence.

In the Milwaukee case, the 18-year-old gunman convinced an older friend to buy the gun for him, which is illegal. The jury found that the gun store employees either knew or should have known.

"They didn't care. I mean, a core part of their market was criminals buying guns," said Milwaukee Chief of Police Edward Flynn. "Reckless behavior where gun stores are supplying criminals with firearms has to be something that's punished."

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Surveillance video from Badger Guns in Milwaukee. Badger Guns

But at Arnzen Arms in Minneapolis, gun salesman Steve Jantscher said the jury verdict was chilling.

"We can't be held responsible for the actions of others with a legally acquired firearm or any other product. If there is an unreasonable hysteria and people start having a knee-jerk reaction, that has the possibility of putting out the business."

Analysis: Milwaukee gun store verdict was "very unique"

The attorney for the local gun store said the ruling will be appealed, which they have until November 16th to file.

CBS News Legal Analyst Rikki Klieman says this ruling paves the way for other similar cases to move forward, but that doesn't mean they will succeed.

"There is an appellate process here. It's going to take years for this to become a real precedent."

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.