It was less than a year ago that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was dealt a significant blow when their high profile lawsuit against Armslist was summarily dismissed for being the dumbest thing the judge had ever seen. The crux of their case was that Armslist had provided the meeting place for an illegal firearm that was sold and later used in a murder, and the Brady Campaign wanted to “hold them accountable” for not stopping the sale. In the end, their lawsuit was so flawed that they had to beg the court to ignore the law to let the lawsuit continue, something that didn’t happen. Fresh off that stunning victory, the Brady Campaign yesterday launched a new lawsuit on equally tenuous grounds, this time aimed at an ammunition distributor . . .
From Fox News:
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence will announce Tuesday a lawsuit against online retailers alleged to have sold ammunition and equipment to accused Aurora theater killer James Holmes.
“The lawsuit alleges that the websites negligently supplied Holmes with the arsenal he used to kill 12 people and wound at least 58 others by failing to use any screening mechanism to determine his identity or intent for the products,” the Brady Center said in a media release.
[…]The Brady Center said it plans to name Lucky Gunner (BulkAmmo.com) as well as other online weapons sellers in the lawsuit.
If the judge thought that the Brady Campaign’s lawsuit against Armslist was frivolous and unfounded, this one should be even better.
From what I can tell, it seems like the Brady Campaign’s argument is that LuckyGunner should have reasonably known that James Holmes was insane and planning to shoot up a movie theatre. They therefore should have refrained from selling him any ammunition. There are a couple of problems with that line of thinking.
First things first, how exactly does the Brady Campaign expect LuckyGunner to know that this (or any) ammo they’ve sold was destined for an illegal activity? That would be like suing an Exxon station for selling gas to fuel a car that was later used in a hit-and-run. It sounds like the Brady Campaign’s argument is going to be that LuckyGunner should have performed a background check on their ammunition purchasers
Never mind that Holmes had already passed a background check when purchasing four firearms. As the Brady Campaign already knows, there’s neither a federal law requiring background checks on ammunition sales. Does the Brady Campaign expect LuckyGunner to conduct individual interviews with each purchaser and get a sworn statement about their intentions for the ammunition? And even if they did that, the Bradys would just make the same “you should have known better” argument when someone inevitably lies about the bullets there buying and we’d we start the whole thing over again.
To get an idea of just how ridiculous this is, let’s take this same logic to the very next logical step. If Walmart had sold James Holmes the black turtleneck he wore during the attack, should we sue Walmart for providing “equipment” to a mass shooter that made him more difficult to spot in the dark? Should we sue Holmes’ apartment complex for giving a mass murderer a location from which to plot his nefarious crimes? How about we sue the movie theatre for collecting all the victims in a convenient place? You see where I’m going with this — the Brady Campaign is playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon here and trying to find any viable target to sue that they can, no matter how tenuous the connection.
The real plan here isn’t “justice” for the victims, but to try and shut down online ammunition retailers. The Brady Campaign could have gone after any number of big box sellers for providing ammunition to murderers. I’m sure the local Walmart has sold thousand of rounds of ammo later used in crimes. Instead, though, they’ve targeted a small mom-and-pop operation like LuckyGunner because the Brady Campaign knows that they probably don’t have the money to defend themselves.
They’re betting that they can get LuckyGunner to fold before this legal travesties ever gets to a courtroom Not only would that succeed in knocking a legitimate, law-abiding business off the map, but it might also set a legal precedent for other ammunition retailers that they need to know who’s buying their products and what their intentions are. That’s an insanely high bar to set in an already razor-thin margin business, and it would likely close down many of the shops that we all use on a daily basis.
Justice is the last thing the Brady Campaign is looking for here. Their intent is to use lawfare to put the screws to the evil ammunition distributors and shut off as much supply as they can to American gun owners. Thankfully their legal argument seems to be even more tenuous than it was in the Armslist case. Let’s hope they’re just as successful here.