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The Adventure Outdoors countersuit also makes the claim that Bloomberg made a "perverse effort" to solicit Atlanta Mayor Franklin's support "in presenting egregious slander" in New York's "malicious and illegal" crusade against Georgia gun dealers.
Franklin's office responded to a question about the mayor's role by e-mailing a prepared statement detailing the formation of the group of mayors to combat illegal gun sales.
- John Sugg
- MIKE PHILLIPS: "My rule is, if it smells fishy, walk away."
Whether the Wallace countersuit's claims of fraud and defamation stick depends on whether the original New York City allegations are proven – that private investigator Nooner successfully made a straw purchase at Adventure Outdoors.
The New York complaint itself is ambiguous, conceding that there's been "no transfer of the gun by the straw purchaser necessary for an actual straw sale." And the lawsuit acknowledges that a proper background check was performed. Another problem is that Tanya Nooner, the star witness against Adventure Outdoors, became a murder victim.
Adventure Outdoors' Wallace points to the place on the federal documents where a buyer swears the gun isn't being purchased for another person. "If we allowed a straw purchase, if that's so, then why did Tanya Nooner put her initials here? Why did we insist she answer that question?"
Barr and Wallace also point to fundamental questions about New York's litigation: Do the links between the 21 guns sold in Smyrna and New York crime show a failing on the part of the gun store? Were the sales legal and the guns resold after they went out the door? Were they stolen before they ended up in criminals' hands in the Big Apple? And, considering the sting investigations, does New York have any evidence that any of the 21 guns were acquired via a straw purchase?
None of those questions is answered in the litigation documents. The only specifics asserted by New York – that serial numbers were removed, for example – could have happened long after Adventure Outdoors sold the guns.
And, although Bloomberg's lawsuit cites the Americans for Gun Safety Foundation study, the litigation ignores a big caveat in the report: "[J]ust because a store is on the list of high crime gun stores does not mean the store is engaging in illegal behavior. It is possible that some of these stores do such a high volume of business that it is inevitable that some firearms will be used in crimes." Adventure Outdoors is just such a high-volume dealer.
Wallace, who has spent more than $250,000 in the litigation, says the price is worth it. "This is my reputation, my family's reputation," he says. "The worst thing that can happen to a dealer is to become one that's known not to abide by the law."
FULL DISCLOSURE: John Sugg is a pistol-packing, carbine-carrying, shotgun-slinging member of the National Rifle Association.