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Marengo

Marengo Guns angry over being dropped by insurance company

Wisconsin-based insurance company settled lawsuit with Milwaukee police officers

Sarah Nader- snader@shawmedia.com
Marengo Guns owner Dominic DeBock adjusts handguns displayed on the wall of his Marengo store last year. Marengo Guns was dropped by its liability insurance carrier, which decided last fall to stop insuring gun stores.
Sarah Nader- snader@shawmedia.com Marengo Guns owner Dominic DeBock adjusts handguns displayed on the wall of his Marengo store last year. Marengo Guns was dropped by its liability insurance carrier, which decided last fall to stop insuring gun stores.

MARENGO – A local gun store is seeing red over a decision by its insurance company to no longer insure gun shop owners.

Marengo Guns learned over the weekend in a letter that West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. would no longer provide its liability insurance as of August. The store posted the news on its Facebook page and encouraged gun owners to contact the company in protest, and assuring customers that it will find another company to acquire coverage.

The store had never filed a claim with West Bend, owner Dominic DeBock said.

“I want gun owners to know that it’s an anti-gun company, or at least they’re not willing to cover gun stores,” DeBock said.

But while the letter was dated the day after the terrorist attack on an Orlando gay nightclub that left 49 dead and 53 wounded, the company said the timing is coincidental, and that it made the decision to get out of the gun store business late last year.

The West Bend, Wisconsin-based company made the decision shortly after having to pay a $1 million settlement reached in a lawsuit filed by two Milwaukee police officers who were shot by a handgun bought through a straw purchase at Badger Guns in West Milwaukee. In a landmark case last year, a jury found the store broke federal laws and negligently sold the gun.

West Bend in a statement cited the case as one of “a number of factors” that led to its decision, and apologized for inconveniences to policyholders. The company still insures personal firearms, concealed-carry holders and gun safety training courses.

“This was a very difficult decision, which we did not make lightly. It was not influenced by politics or by recent events involving gun violence. We made this decision in late 2015,” according to the statement.

DeBock said the company, regardless of reason, sent a message that money from gun enthusiasts is not welcome, and added that gun owners tend to not spend it in places they do not perceive to be friendly to the Second Amendment.

West Bend earlier this year stopped providing workers’ compensation insurance for On Target Range & Tactical Training Center. The Crystal Lake gun store and firing range gets its liability insurance from a different company, CEO Bo Strom said.

“I don’t know why people are so reticent to provide the insurance, because there are so few incidents in the reputable gun shop community,” Strom said.

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