“There is nothing that says people only have the right to buy a $1,000 gun vs. a $300 gun,” Scott Braum asserts. “And many people don’t have that choice if they want a gun to protect their family.” The Attorney made the statement on behalf of Charles Brown, accused of knowingly selling handguns to three so-called straw purchasers back in 2005. As sole distributor for Hi-Point, Brown claims he’s covered by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shelters firearms manufacturers from legal blowback if and when their customers use their products to commit crimes. Here’s the background to the seven-year-old suit via The Cleveland Plain dealer . . .

Williams, a high school basketball standout, was mistaken for a gang rival in 2003 and shot while playing basketball in front of a neighbor’s house.

He nearly died in his fathers arms, but later recovered.

Police quickly and traced the gun used in the shooting to a sale at an Ohio gun show more than two years earlier.

It was one of 87 guns purchased by an Ohio woman, Kimberly Upshaw. She along with James Nigel Bostic and two other women bought as many as 181 Hi-Points from Brown. His company, MKS Supply, is the sole distributor of the brand.

Bostic told Brown he was planning on opening his own gun shop, according to court filings, though he lacked a federal license to do so and was not likely to obtain one because of past convictions for misdemeanors.

The lawsuit hinges on whether or not Brown knowingly sold the guns to straw purchasers. The theory, championed by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, is that Brown had to have known, or should have known, given that Hi-Points are notorious “crime guns.”

Brown’s defense (as above): “Hi-Point is an affordable firearm. And there is absolutely a very large, legal market for an affordable, reliable, accurate firearm in America.” In other words, they’re just trying to keep the customer satisfied. By doing so, a small percentage end up in criminal hands.

So what are the numbers?

Records show Hi-Points were the firearm of choice in more than 60 percent of straw purchase cases federally prosecuted in the Northern District of Ohio region since 2006.

Hi-Points, which are manufactured in a small plant about 80 miles from Cleveland, also were among the guns most confiscated by Cleveland police in the past five years. Police seized 83 Hi-Points in 2011 and 64 so far this year . . .

Tom Deeb, whose company has been making Hi-Points since 1988 and now is the 4th largest pistol manufacturer in the country, producing as many as 85,000 a year, said in a recent interview that his heart breaks every time he hears about a crime involving one of his guns . . .

See how that works? Writer Rachel Dissell flags the percentage of Hi-Points in a selective subset (straw purchasing) and then trumpets the absolute number of Hi-Points confiscated.  The author singularly fails to connect the dots and point out the percentage of Hi-Points used in crimes per year vs. the total number produced per year. I make it less than one percent.

To her credit, Dissell points out that Deeb has gone above and beyond the call of duty in trying to make his guns traceable by law enforcement. Never mind. The case against Brown, MKS, Deeb and Hi-Point is a political football. It has as much to do with common sense as a Stealth Bomber has to do with humanitarian aid.

Lori O’Neill, a Northeast Ohio gun violence and trafficking prevention specialist, said that if a long-established, federally licensed gun dealer like Brown cannot be trusted to recognize an obviously illegal purchase of handguns to a straw buyer, the state needs to take action.

The state should limit the number of handguns a person can purchase in a single transaction, she said. And all federally licensed gun dealers and employees should be required to undergo training on recognizing straw purchases, said O’Neill, who has consulted with Cleveland-area law enforcement on gun issues.

“While determined criminals may find a way to get guns,” she said. ” We don’t have to make it so easy for them.”

What’s not said: any attempt to make it more difficult for criminals to get guns makes it more difficult (i.e. costly) for law-abiding citizens to get guns. Is it worth it? Of course not. But the antis will have their day in court on this one. Watch this space.

33 Responses to Hi-Point Lawsuit Rumbles On

  1. So, Brady Bunch wants to make cheap guns disappear so that a common citizen cannot afford to own a gun? Business as usual.

  2. Time for hardball. Countersue for damages including: defamation, legal expenses, and stress from this frivolous lawsuit.

    • Not likely. The appellate court reversed an order granting a motion to dismiss; meaning that the lower court erred in finding that the plaintiff failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted. That makes it virtually impossible to prevail on an argument that a claim is frivolous.

  3. Seriously, someone please start trying people with treason who want to take action against the constitution. This is getting old fast.

    • “So if they made 85,000 firearms and less than 100 are seized by Cleveland police…”

      Obviously, it means that 84,900 criminals fooled the cops and got away.

  4. I know a guy who recently bought a Hi-Point. He’s a blue-collar worker who lives in Cleveland and has a house and two kids. He doesn’t have enough disposable income to buy something better, so he went with the Hi-Point. I probably would have steered him to something else if he had consulted me but he didn’t know I was a “gun guy”. We went to the range with it and I was amazed to find that it shot right to point-of-aim. In fact the only bad thing I had to say about it was that the muzzle-flip and felt recoil seemed to be higher in the Hi-Point than my Kahr PM9.

    • If you’re on a severely limited budget, wouldn’t it be better to have a $150 gun now that works, rather than saving up for a $500 Glock a year from now? Out of curiosity, what would you have recommended in that price range?

      • Something used. Along the lines of police trade-in S&W. Maybe even a used Ruger P-series. This is also before I shot the Hi-Point. My impression of them from my gun-snob friends was that they didn’t work or shoot straight. After having shot it with him I realized they were very wrong.

        • Careful win the police trade – ins, though. Some agencies actually put a lot of ammo thru theirs. One of the police trade ins I got seems like it had 20k thru it. Still works, but its not terribly tight or accurate. I suppose that may action fare well against a HiPoint.

      • … Out of curiosity, what would you have recommended in that price range?

        A used Taurus revolver. .38 probably.

      • I picked up a used XD9 with a couple of mags and a shitty holster (a Fobus, not that I’ve ever even taken it out of the package) for 325 out the door.

        As far as I know, I’m at least the third owner, and given the overall condition of the pistol, I’m inclined to believe that the previous owner was telling the truth when he claimed it was fairly lightly used. The barrel finish was worn, but nowhere near the degree of wear present on any of the several other XD pistols my brother and I own, and exterior showed very little signs of holster wear.

        It’s not the only pistol of similar quality I’ve seen at that price point; They come up from time to time if you keep your eyes open, and I’ve seen a few recently.

        Also, Glocks aren’t that expensive; I’ve got a G19 that cost under 500 bucks out the door NEW and that’s WITH factory night sights…

  5. Hasn’t the state limited the sale of inexpensive firearms in the past? Wasn’t there the concern of “Saturday Night Specials” — firearms that were inexpensive, and therefore accessible, to a larger socioeconomic group? This seems like a horrible form of discrimination.

    I’m not saying that the case necessarily has merit, but how can you not notice selling 87 of the same gun to the same person — a private individual, not a dealer?

    • This (and some good old fashioned protectionism) was the genesis of the “Point System” for imported handguns, in the GCA of 1968. To be fair, some of those guns pre-68 really were more dangerous to the user than the target, but it was still discriminatory against the poor.

      This is why you saw an article the other day about importing 3″ bbl guns and machining them down to 2″ bbl.

  6. I’d like to know if the number of Hi Points sold by Brown to
    4 people is legit. What was the time frame for these sales?

    This may rankle a few nerves here but I think that selling
    an average of 45 pistols to 4 people would be a bit
    of a red flag. Even if 1 said he was “planning” to open
    a gun shop.

    Is it the sellers concern what or how many firearms you buy?
    No. Should it pique their interest? Probably.

  7. As a sophomore in college, I was living in a shady apartment complex alone. Barely able to afford to keep the lights on an feed myself simultaneously, but needing a more compact home defense tool than my Ruger 10/22, I bought a Hi-point C9.
    Did it work every time? Not always. Did it look pretty? Hell no. Could I afford it? Yes, barely. Did it bring me a sense of security? You bet your ass it did.
    I’m still broke, but sold the Hi-point for exactly what I paid for it and bought a Sig SP2022 that was 4 times the cost, and a million times more reliable.

    I say all this to illustrate the point that there is a need for guns like the Hi-point and the like. It’s affordable protection for the people statistically at the highest risk for violence. Sure they get used in crimes once in a while. So does every other brand. This is the Saturday Night Special campaign all over again, attached to a call for a ban on multiple gun sales. I hope to see the prosecution crash and burn.

  8. Blaming Hi Point for their inexpensive guns being used in crimes is ridiculous. I bet Anheiser Busch is also present in more Drunk Driving deaths than more obscure or expensive brands. Does making affordable beer mean you are just making it for drunk drivers to use to kill people.

  9. Since when did this become an issue about the right to own inexpensive guns?
    This is about a gun dealer selling a large quantity of guns to someone that told him he intended to resell them but has a criminal record that would prevent him from doing so lawfully.

    • +100
      I am pretty sure that if I walked in to a LGS where I was not known and attempted to buy 45 handguns that there would be some interesting questions!

      • This.

        From what I have seen elsewhere, the whole situation sounds shady as hell.

        Why would anyone who is not ALREADY a dealer buy that many hi-point pistols, and why all at once?

        We’re not talking about a guy buying a case or two of Nagant revolvers to stash away for a rainy day (and spare parts), these are NEWLY manufactured firearms that come with a lifetime warranty from a company that is still in business.

        • I have to agree.

          This seems extremely sketchy and some eyebrows should have been raised when somebody wants to buy several dozen or more of the same really inexpensive handgun.

          I can understand a few or even a bunch at a rip if the price is great or the holidays are rolling around, but the article gives the impression that one person bought more than 80 all at once. That many might not even fit in my truck if they were still in the boxes. Even if it is legal it is definitely fishy.

  10. Remember that barry took a moment in the debate to point out cheap pistols as part of the crime problem. Look out any pistol that sells for less than a thousand bucks may get tagged as a “Saturday Night Special”.

    • <$1000 really?

      The Hi-Points can be had for about $150 out the door, in many cases less. Do you really think that would be the target threashold? I certainly don't consider my Glock 23 "cheap" despite folks referring to them as "disposable."

      Crap… now I have to go on a Google rampage to read up on the SNSpls.

  11. This debates ends when people decide to take responsibility for their own actions, rather than pointing their finger at someone else.

    • Yes, but….

      In this case, the plaintiff alleges that the distributor sold something like 80 pistols to a felon from another state, possibly through one or two straw purchasers.

      There argument seems to be that there should have been all sorts of red flags raised by the transaction(s), and I’m having a hard time disagreeing.

      If they are able to successfully prove that the distributor KNOWINGLY violated the law, then the dealer will likely be tried criminally too.

  12. I couldn’t afford a 1911 at the time (I’m leery of pistols without a manual safety), so I got a Hi-Point C9. I’d like a lighter trigger pull, but that’s my only real complaint. Mine works every time I pull the trigger. Yes, it makes noise when I carry it in my holster. Yes, it’s heavy, but not as heavy as an M-1 pot on my head, a fully-loaded M-14 rifle in my arms, and four ammunition pouches on my LBE. Yes, it’s ugly beyond repair. But it works every time I pull the trigger, and I don’t have to totally disassemble it to clean it after every use.

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