Guns Don’t Kill People

Wackenhut Services, a contractor that provides security services to the federal government, hired Devin Bailey as a security officer. Wackenhut tested Bailey’s firearms proficiency, issued him a gun, and sent him to work at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. A month later, Bailey shot and killed himself with the gun. Bailey had suffered from mental illness throughout his brief adult life. He withdrew from college and within days of joining the Navy, he was hospitalized for psychosis and discharged. Later, Bailey assaulted a police officer, which led to an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Although Wackenhut’s in-house background check revealed Bailey’s outstanding warrant, management did not look into the issue before giving Bailey the gun. Nor did Wackenhut obtain his military service record. Following his death, Bailey’s mother sued Wackenhut, claiming that they failed to adequately investigate Bailey’s background and negligently issued him a gun. She pointed to a federal law, which prohibits any “fugitive from justice,” “mental defective,” or person “who has been committed to a mental institution” from possessing firearms. The Court ruled in Wackenhut’s favor, stating that even if the company was negligent in arming Bailey, the act of suicide generally is considered to be a deliberate act, in which Wackenhut cannot be liable.

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