In 2007, Michael Woodbury shot three people to death in a Conway military surplus store. Woodbury pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. That ought to have ended the case. But nearly five years later the mother of one of the victims is still in court, trying to hold Woodbury’s grandfather, Lawrence Secord of Scarborough, Maine, responsible for the killings. Though Woodbury pulled the trigger, it was Secord’s gun.
Says Roberto Tepichin, lawyer for Gail Jones: “Frankly, it was a preventable death. If the firearms had been kept in a safe, for example, none of this would have happened. If we get a ruling saying gun owners need to store their firearms reasonably and safely, that would go a long way to avoiding repeats of what we saw happen here.”
Jones argues that Secord had a duty to store his gun in such a way that it could not have been stolen by Woodbury. Secord kept the gun hidden beneath a hot water heater platform in his locked hunting cabin. Woodbury broke into the unoccupied cabin and took the gun. Woodbury got past Secord’s two security measures. Why does Jones insist that a third measure would have prevented the killings? Safes can be broken into, combinations stolen. Why not five legally mandated levels of security, or 20?
If a convicted felon steals a locked car and kills someone while driving it, is the owner responsible? What if the car is unlocked, but in a locked garage? What if the deadly weapon is a knife? An ax? A bowling ball?
If the government orders that guns must be locked in safes at all times, who is liable when people are inevitably killed by home invaders who shoot them before they can open the gun safe?
The lawsuit is plainly frivolous. Only one person is liable for those murders, and he is serving a life sentence. The judge should make that clear when rejecting Jones’ baseless claims.