As reported, Houston Police officer Rodney Johnson arrested Mexican illegal immigrant and convicted child sexual abuser Juan Leonardo Quintero, but failed to properly frisk Leonardo for weapons, missing a 9mm pistol. Juan Leonardo Quintero then fatally shot officer Johnson from the back seat of Johnson’s squad car (and was sentenced to life in prison for this crime). Joslyn Johnson, the widow of the slain officer, is now suing the gun store from which the pistol was purchased, despite the fact that the store did not sell the gun to Juan Leonardo Quintero and is not responsible for Johnson’s murder:
The gun sale
Juan Leonardo Quintero was not eligible to purchase a gun, as he was an illegal immigrant. Instead, he went to Carter’s Country gun store with his wife, who could lawfully purchase a gun, and she then bought the gun. The widow of officer Johnson argues that this makes the gun store liable for her husband’s death, as they should have seen that Juan Leonardo Quintero’s wife was really purchasing the gun for Juan Leonardo Quintero. While I have sympathy for this woman who has lost her husband, I disagree with her attempt to blame the gun store.
Why the gun store should not be liable
It is not reasonable to assume that when two people walk in to a store to make a purchase, the person making the purchase is actually illegally doing so on behalf of the other person. When I purchased my Remington 870 Marine Magnum, my girlfriend was with me. Illinois requires that gun purchasers first get a FOID card, and she had not (yet) gotten one, so it would have been illegal for her to buy a gun. By the logic of officer Johnson’s widow, the gun store should have prevented me from buying myself a gun, just because an ineligible person was in the store with me. That is plainly ridiculous. I lawfully bought myself a gun, and my girlfriend was just along for the ride, as we had other things to do that afternoon.
Just as a person who is over 21 can buy a bottle wine while their under-21 child is present, an eligible gun purchaser should be and is able to buy a gun while an ineligible person is with them. Only if the gun store actually knows that the buyer is breaking the law by buying a gun for an ineligible person should the gun store be liable. Indeed, a gun store could get itself into trouble by arbitrarily rejecting sales on some hunch that there is illegality going on, as such hunches might smack of racism or sexism.
The true parties at fault
I generally don’t find it productive to place blame, as doing so won’t bring back the murdered police officer. However I do believe in responsibility, and feel compelled to include the following for completeness.
1. Juan Leonardo Quintero. He is the illegal immigrant and convicted child sexual abuser who murdered officer Johnson. He is clearly an individual who had no respect for our laws against abusing children, no respect for our laws against illegal immigration, no respect for our laws against illegal gun possession, and no respect for our laws against murder.
2. Juan Leonardo Quintero’s wife (assuming she bought the gun for him, rather than for herself). Buying a gun for someone who is forbidden to own a gun (such as an illegal immigrant) is a crime. If Quintero’s wife bought the gun for him, then she broke the law, and gave him the tool which he used to commit murder.
3. Officer Rodney Johnson. As sad as it is to assign fault to a cop who died in the line of duty, the fact is that officer Johnson failed to thoroughly search Juan Leonardo Quintero for weapons before placing him in the squad car. Cops search arrestees to prevent this very even from happening, which is why it is so important that an officer be diligent when taking a suspect into custody.
The lesson to be learned
In every tragedy there is a lesson to be learned, and this case is no different. Criminals ignore gun control laws just like they ignore any other law. Someone like Juan Leonardo Quintero, who is willing to sexually abuse a child, enter the country illegally after being deported, and murder a cop, is also willing to break our gun control laws. Passing more gun control laws will just mean that criminals such as Juan Leonardo Quintero will have another law to ignore, while simultaneously leaving the good members of society without guns for self defense against those very criminals.
My thanks yet again to Anders for point out this story.