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In 2012 a Wisconsin man bought a gun from another individual in a private sale through an advertisement placed at Armslist. He then used the gun to shoot up a salon where his estranged wife worked, killing three people. The fact that he was under a restraining order and a prohibited person didn’t present much of an obstacle.

The Brady Campaign had sued Armslist on behalf of one of the victim’s families and the case has been bouncing around the Wisconsin court system for the last six years. Most recently the suit had been thrown out based on protections provided by the Communications Decency Act. That court ruled that Armslist is functionally no different from any other seller of advertising such as a newspaper classified section (remember those?) or Craigslist (if they accepted gun-related advertising).

But today, a Wisconsin appeals court reinstated the suit.

But the Court of Appeals agreed with Daniel that her suit does not seek liability for those protected actions, but for using a “website design feature to facilitate illegal firearms purchases.”

That seems like a stretch, to say the least. Armslist basically runs classified ads. The pages of legalese and disclaimers you wade through in order to use their service makes it clear that it’s up to the seller to ensure he complies with all local laws.

“To repeat, Daniel argues, and the complaint alleges, that Armslist is liable for designing and operating its website in a way that encouraged prohibited sales, which she contends was a substantial factor in causing the shootings,” Judge Brian Blanchard wrote for the court.

“It may be fair to characterize all of the operational and design features alleged by Daniel to be in some sense ‘content-based.’ However, in this respect, the content is not ‘information provided by another information content provider.’

“Rather, it is content created by Armslist, and there is no language in the Act immunizing Armslist from liability based on content that it creates.”

While we’re not lawyers, that seems like bending over backwards in order to thread a very fine legal needle, to mix a couple of metaphors. This won’t be the last we hear of this suit. And while it’s likely to cost them a lot in additional legal fees, we’d still bet on Armslist coming out on top. At some point.


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  1. Wonder who will pay Armslist’s legal bills after they prevail (again)?

    Will we hear a lot of caterwauling from the plaintiffs about paying a six-figure legal bill like the last time one of these went forward?

    • “Wonder who will pay Armslist’s legal bills after they prevail (again)?”

      Don’t be so glib, John.

      For how many years and for how many times did it take before big tobacco was found liable for a smoker’s death?

      Same battle plan, new target…

    • They will get stuck with the bill only if a court finds that the Act protects Armslist. Right now, the appeals court has held that it doesn’t , which takes the attorney’s fees provision out of play.

        • I practice in PA, so I’m not familiar with Wisconsin law, but I doubt that’s true. The “American rule” that usually applies in the absence of a statutory provision to the contrary, is that each party is responsible for their own legal fees regardless of who prevails.

    • I wouldn’t be so sure armslist will prevail again. The antis have been racking up solid victories lately, and Wis just elected an extremely left wing judge.

  2. Yeah I agree it’s quite a stretch…and the buyer and seller agree to terms listed. I have never used Armslist mainly because almost every nearby listing has a ludicrous price attached to it. My favorite PawnShop uses it but they are an FFL. Conversly another PawnShop throws everything on Gunbroker…which has more protections. I wish Armslist well!

    • “idiots. have they ever seen Armslist??? they don’t create shit.”

      ‘Backpage’ was seized and the owners charged for prostitution – human trafficking, and they didn’t supply the girls.

      They were charged with *facilitating* the trafficking…

        • “Backpage facilitated the payment, which makes them way more liable.”

          Does Armslist provide any sort of escrow service between the buyer and seller?

          If so, there’s the money…

        • Nope, armslist is pure classified ad, nothing like gunbroker. You’re totally responsible for everything, contact, meeting in the walmart parking lot after 11pm.

  3. And the assault on the gun owners’ “means of production” continues unabated…

    -Freedom of association (bans on open carry & armed protests, NRA as a ‘terror’ org)
    -Publishing rights (Youtube)
    -Financial access (banking/credit)
    -Anonymity (background checks)
    -Manufacturing (lawsuits, oppressive licensing)
    -Purchase/sales (gun show bans, now ‘online gun show’ ban attempts)

    • You’re forgetting one:

      *Use ban (huge tax and lengthy background checks on ammo and attempts at legislatively closing ranges and regression in what’s okay for self defense)

  4. this is on the seller of the firearm for agreeing to an illegal sale, I’ve dealt on armslist a LOT, and unless they have seen you a time or two for business, %99.999999 of folks will insist on following local law and armslist terms of use. armslist is not at fault in any way that I see.

    • The legality of the sale might be in question. But there is no question the seller isn’t as big a target as armslist.

  5. If Armslist advertised their website as a way for prohibited persons to circumvent FFLs and acquire firearms illegally, I can see where the courts would allow a lawsuit to proceed.

    Of course Armslist does NOT advertise their website as a way for prohibited persons to acquire firearms illegally. Therefore, the courts should NOT allow any lawsuit to proceed.

    Incidentally, how does anyone know that the attacker connected with a seller through Armslist?

    Also incidentally, I have to believe that fedzilla is logging EVERYTHING on Armslist and already knows who is selling what to whom.

  6. Probably not the Brady crew…

    Let’s see, a prohibited person breaks the law and acquires a weapon from a private party, then breaks the law and commits murder, attempted murder, etc.

    Who do they go after?

  7. F WI, and the Court.

    Armslist was protecting the rest of us, and our Rights.

    The Court isn’t.

  8. ‘member that Bloomberg Armslist investigation/sting a few years back that failed to yield a single illegal act? I ‘member.

  9. With McCabe’s criminal referral, and other referrals outstanding from Hillary to Comey, 120 x Watergate’s about to break loose. Evil POS (D) and silent-rino (R) are all complicit.

    F Em All (FEA).

  10. Of course the courts will side with the brady bunch because they, like other communist front groups like the SPLC own the justice department.

    It’s like one commenter previously said. All judges are anti-gun and would rule it constitutional when the government wants all of us gun owners rounded up and executed.

    The law is being twisted to where you have no legal protections if you’re a gun owner. Use a gun in self defense, and you’re cleared of all wrongdoing after a long and costly trial? Well now if an anti gun DA wants to go after you again they’re going to be able to. Double jealousy and due process no longer apply to gun owners.

    And of course the worthless, fat, stupid, and scared-of-their-own-shadow American sheeple will get behind it 100%.

    Just watch. The government is now ready to start committing the atrocities it’s wanted to inflict upon us since at least the late 80’s.

    • wow doomguy, I just realized I haven’t seen you or your moniker since I used to browse about the armpit of the internet.

      Anyway, you’re right. A large portion of the judiciary is strongly left leaning because they all are, by nature of the job, spending long times in academia. It follows they’d be influenced left.

  11. I think a valuable goal would be to reach a point where the question “were the victims armed?” could lead to a ruling that the deceased did not value his/her own life enough to sue somebody else for contributing to that death.

  12. Is this a motion for summary judgement by the defendants?
    “as a matter of law, even if the plaintiff could prove their allegations, this suit could not prevail, so the defense requests summary judgment without trial”

    It sounds like the appeals court is merely saying “if the plaintiff’s allegations are true, then they would have a legitimate case, therefore we need to take this to trial so the plaintiff’s case may be tried on its merits (or total lack thereof).

  13. “While we’re not lawyers, that seems like bending over backwards in order to thread a very fine legal needle”

    Well, I am a retired lawyer, and it seems like the court bent Armslist over in order to get impaled by something a lot bigger than a needle.

  14. Congress recently passed HR 1865, the “Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act”. Sites like Backpage, which was a hub for prostitution and/or sex trafficking, can now be held legally accountable for what third party users post on their sites. Craigslist actually took down its ‘Personals’ section because they don’t want to deal with any legal problems should their service be used inappropriately. There was once a wall of separation between websites/message boards/etc. and their users when it came to legal culpability for the actions of the user. That wall has been breeched. When you approve or disapprove is beside the point. A legal precedent has been set.

  15. So if I meet some thot on Tinder and contract HIV from her, I should sue Tinder? Okay then.

  16. If I run an for sale ad in the NY Times, can they be at fault if the guy who buys my SUV then takes it into NYC and runs over 100 pedestrians?

  17. So much for Trump putting a stop to the Communist liberal agenda. Kinda just blows that whole argument out of the water, doesn’t it?

  18. What happened to :common sense” in America? I graduated in 1986 in Ga. – and I brought my .22 caliber rifle with me to SCHOOL!!! because back then…schools considered this a sport/ROTC training just like football, basketball, etc. (I bet some people just “cringe” when they hear that, but do some research!) I believe the CIA is running a black ops with all this “gun violence”, (MK-ULTRA) so that the U.N. can complete its new World Order status, as “poppy Bush” called it whatever it may be. It is not the “tool” that is “bad”, like a rifle, car, whatever. It is the manner in which that tool is “used”! Back in WW2, 2 Japanese Generals were discussing invasion plans for the American mainland. As one General mapped out his strategy for the other too comprehend, the other replied, “It will never work, there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass, and it simply won’t work”….back in the ’70’s, you had farmers (and showoffs) with rifle racks in their truck, sometimes stacked 4 deep with .308’s and shotguns! These days, you’d be lucky you aren’t thrown in jail for sporting these in your pickup….(younger generation Wikipedia “truck rifle rack”) 😉 So with all this “supposed” gun legislation, they are gonna throw the baby out with the bathwater? Maybe this is the united nations goal after all….research Mao Zedong – Pol Pot – Hitler – Mussolini just for starters…once they passed the laws for gun bans……well, the rest is history!

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