Lawmakers Want to Hold Gun Sellers Responsible for Assault Weapons Damages
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Jerry's Outdoor Sports has been around since 1985 and has seen its share of ups and downs in the industry.
But the most recently proposed Assault Weapons Responsibility Act has owner Jerry Stehman shell shocked.
"I'm just completely taken aback..." Stehman said.
The bill would hold gun manufacturers, sellers, owners and possessors legally liable for damage done by military-style assault weapons.
"It will deem these guns as unreasonably dangerous. It will not ban them. It will just hold
people strictly liable, strictly responsible for what occurs," said Democrat John Morse. The Senate president devised the proposal.
Stehman disagrees with Morse's sentiment.
"We never want to talk about holding someone responsible for their actions. How you could
hold me or a manufacturer responsible for what you, as an individual, do out on your own is
the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard of," he said.
The proposal has gun advocates wondering how far the line should be drawn.
"It'd be like selling that sling over there and they went out and hung themselves with it. That's
my fault?" questions Stehman.
The bill would treat any guns aside from handguns, bolt action rifles and shotguns as assault weapons.
Advocates of the act say these weapons have the power to kill in mass, so handing down more liability is reasonable.
Stehman believes that line of reasoning falls short. Shops can use discretion when selling firearms, however, an individual with harmful intentions can just as easily appear normal.
"I've called sales off in the past. I've maybe smelled alcohol on their breath or whatever. But I am not a person who knows what's going on in your head," he explained.
Stehman predicts that if approved, the measure would cripple local sales.
"They would literally shut this industry down because nobody can stand up against that."
Federal law currently protects firearms manufacturers and retailers from being held liable for incidents.
Democrats proposed several additional gun control and mental health bills Tuesday, including universal background checks, a ban on high capacity magazines, new mental health programs and prohibiting concealed weapons on most college campuses, stadiums and arenas.
Governor Hickenlooper has only endorsed the universal background check measure. He has not expressed his opinions on the others yet.