Four years ago, Radcliffe Haughton walked into the Azana Salon & Spa outside Milwaukee and opened fire. Estranged from his wife Zina, Mr. Haughton was under a restraining order that prohibited him from owning a gun. That didn’t stop him from obtaining a firearm.
Mr. Haughton perused armslist.com and arranged to buy a .40 caliber GLOCK through a private sale. He used the gun to murder his wife and two other women while wounding four. In the aftermath, his wife’s family sued Armslist for wrongful death.
An attorney representing the victim’s family argued that Armslist was created to be a nonstop gun show where people barred by law from owning or buying a gun could easily find a firearm, no questions asked.
“Armslist knew the grave risk that it could arm killers like Radcliffe Haughton,” said Jonathan Lowy, an attorney with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which is representing Zina Daniel Haughton’s family in the case.
As you’d expect, that’s not how Armslist and their counselors read the law.
But an attorney for Armslist argued that Congress intended to protect websites from such lawsuits with language in the Communications Decency Act. Because Armslist did not create the gun-selling ad or participate in the transaction, the act gives the business immunity, he argued.
Yesterday, judge Yamahiro sided with Armslist:
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Glenn Yamahiro ruled that the federal Communications Decency Actprotected Armslist against negligence and other claims brought in a lawsuit by the family of Zina Daniel Haughton.
Not that the Judge was happy about it.
Yamahiro agreed the law gives immunity to Armslist but said Armslist is deliberately operating in an online gun market that others have abandoned and he noted Congress’ “well-documented impotence to take reasonable action to police firearms which allow meaningful background checks.”
While the suit against Armslist has been dismissed, one against the actually seller, Devin Linn, still stands. This isn’t the first time a victim’s family has unsuccessfully sued Armslist.