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Lawsuit Tests Missouri Gun Shop’s Liability In Pistol Sale To Mentally Ill Woman

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The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is suing on behalf of Janet Delana from Wellington, Mo., who is the mother of a mentally ill woman who used a gun to murder her father.

According to the complaint, Delana called Odessa Gun and Pawn in Odessa, Mo., in June 2012 to ask that the shop not sell her mentally ill daughter, Colby Sue Weathers, another gun. But two days later, Weathers allegedly bought a semi-automatic .45 caliber handgun from the shop, and used it to murder her father. John Lowy, Director of the Legal Action Project at the Brady Center, says his group has filed similar lawsuits in other states.

“The court can award damages that will take the profit out of supplying dangerous people with guns, and will send a message to gun dealers across the country, that if they supply dangerous people with guns, they can expect to be held accountable for the bad outcomes that result,” says Lowy.

Lowy stresses that the action is not meant to impede gun rights.

“This case is not anti-gun, it’s not anti-second amendment.” Says Lowy. “In fact Janet Delana is a gun owner, and Tex Delana, was a gun owner. The case is about responsibility and accountability, and that’s something gun owners and non-gun owners can agree on."

Lowy says gun store owners have a legally-established duty to use special care in deciding with whom to do business with.

I’ve been at KCUR almost 30 years, working partly for NPR and splitting my time between local and national reporting. I work to bring extra attention to people in the Midwest, my home state of Kansas and of course Kansas City. What I love about this job is having a license to talk to interesting people and then crafting radio stories around their voices. It’s a big responsibility to uphold the truth of those stories while condensing them for lots of other people listening to the radio, and I take it seriously. Email me at frank@kcur.org or find me on Twitter @FrankNewsman.
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