Outdoor retailer Cabela sold an antique 1858 Army .44-calibre black powder revolver to Paul Claren, 69, of Ohio in 2014. Cabela’s is now facing a lawsuit in which the Galliher family asserts that the retailer and its parent company, Bass Pro Group LLC, violated Ohio law by selling a “black powder gun-- a replica of an antique firearm -- and a black powder loading kit via telephone to Paul R. Claren of Orrville OH.
Claren later murdered Bryan Galliher, 21, inAugust 2016 with the very same pistol.
Mother Gerri Galliher and Alissa are seeking “damages and other proper relief resulting from Cabela’s and/or Bass Pro Group’s illegal, negligent, and reckless sale of a firearm to Paul Claren,” according to the complaint. The amount of money sought for damages was not specified in the lawsuit, the the compensation requested will exceed $25,000, according to the complaint. In addition, the Galliher family is eeking punitive damages against Claren and the companies.
Claren’s criminal record includes a conviction for felonious assault, which should have precluded purchases or possession of firearms. Nearly 30 years ago, Claren broke the arm of a city mayor at a traffic stop and "was accused of strangling a patient while working at a psychiatric hospital." Claren was acquitted by a court for the assault, and the hospital dismissed him. He later shot out the windows of the prosecuting attorney and the hospital CEO while targeting the rooms of their children. According to the columbus Dispatch, "While in jail for those charges, he threatened to kill the judge that presided over the case."
Cabela's sold the firearm, apparently, in compliance with federal law but in violation of state law. Police officials in Stark County OH, federal law did not require him to undergo a background check to purchase the replica of the antique firearm. However, Ohio's state law doesrequire a background check.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that because weapons that meet the definition of an 'antique firearm' are not firearms subject to the Gun Control Act of 1968, gunseller licensees need not conduct a background check when transferring an antique firearm to a purchaser. However, state law in Ohio treats antique firearms like any modern firearm. "Antique and antique replica rifles, shotguns, or handguns are treated like modern arms for possession, carrying and purchase purposes," the law states.
Under federal law, an otherwise prohibited person may lawfully possess an antique firearm, but state and local laws can classify antiques as "firearms" and regulate them as such. Purchasers who want to buy a black powder firearm should contact the state Attorney General’s Office to inquire about the laws and possible State or local restrictions.