updated 8/24/2004 5:00:49 PM ET 2004-08-24T21:00:49

A gun dealer agreed to pay $850,000 to a woman whose 7-year-old son was killed with a revolver the dealer sold to a middleman who illegally resold the gun on the street.

The settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit, approved by a judge Friday, has implications nationwide for gun shop owners who sell to “straw” buyers, or front men who buy arms for gun traffickers, experts said.

“There is a risk of liability that is now real” for gun dealers, said Dennis Henigan, legal director for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “These kinds of transactions occur every day in gun shops in every state in the country.”

Perry J. Bruce repeatedly bought small handguns from Jon K. Sauers, the owner of Sauers Trading, and resold them illegally.

On April 19, 1999, children found one of the guns under a parked car. A child pointed the revolver at Nafis Jefferson, 7, and pulled the trigger, killing him. Police believe a drug dealer had hidden the gun under the car.

Bruce pleaded guilty to federal gun trafficking charges in 1998.

Sauers had testified in a deposition that he complied with state and federal law in each sale to Bruce, but that he never asked Bruce why he bought 10 small handguns from him between 1994 and 1997.

“I don’t know what my reason would be to ask him,” Sauers said in the deposition. “I didn’t think it was any of my business.”

An attorney for the boy’s mother, Tennille Jefferson, said Monday he hoped the settlement would discourage gun dealers from making such sales.

“They just pretend it’s not happening when they know better,” said Mark J. LeWinter.

When reached Monday, Sauers said, “I don’t believe I want to say anything at all.” His lawyer also declined to comment.

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