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Lawyers: Suit against pawn shop not about gun rights

April 25, 2013 at 6:08 PM

OXFORD, Miss., April 25 (UPI) -- Lawyers suing the Mississippi pawnshop that sold a gun used to kill an off-duty Chicago police officer say the case has nothing to do with gun rights.

Richard Barrett, who is representing the family of Thomas Wortham IV with his father, Don, told the Chicago Tribune they are both gun owners. He said the issue is not the Second Amendment but the irresponsibility of a store that sold a Smith & Wesson pistol and other firearms to a straw purchaser.

The lawsuit names Ed's Pawn Shop and Salvage Yard in Byhalia, Miss., as a defendant along with Michael Elliott, the young man who purchased the pistol and two other guns, and Quawi Gates, a college student who sold guns on the side but was unable to buy them because of his criminal record. It was filed Wednesday in Oxford.

"Just because people like guns around here and enjoy hunting doesn't make them devoid of common sense," Barrett said. "We're not bringing this case to change laws. We are bringing this case because Thomas Wortham IV is no longer with us. His family lost him because a pawnshop here in Mississippi put profits over people."

Elliott bought the gun at Ed's in 2007. It resurfaced three years later in Chicago after Wortham was shot outside his parents' home on the South Side, allegedly by gang members trying to steal his motorcycle.

Gates was convicted of illegal gun sales. Four young men are awaiting trial in Illinois on murder charges.

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