A gun-control group has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the parents of a Texas high school shooting victim, alleging that the website from which the 17-year-old shooter bought ammo broke federal law by not verifying his age.
You might think that sounds pretty bad for Lucky Gunner since the shooter was underage when he purchased the ammunition he used. If Lucky Gunner broke the law, they’d lose the protection of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
Not so fast, though. That description of the lawsuit misconstrues 18 U.S. Code § 922. The applicable section is (b)(1).
(b) It shall be unlawful for any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to sell or deliver—
(1) any firearm or ammunition to any individual who the licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe is less than eighteen years of age, and, if the firearm, or ammunition is other than a shotgun or rifle, or ammunition for a shotgun or rifle, to any individual who the licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe is less than twenty-one years of age;
Only if they know or have cause to think the purchaser is underage, is the transaction unlawful. 18 U.S. Code § 922 does not require them to verify the age, anymore than 18 U.S. Code § 922(d) requires you to run a NICS check for a private firearm sale (assuming you still live in a semi-free state). If you know or have cause to suspect the would-be buyer is prohibited, you can’t lawfully make the sale, but you don’t have to check.
Ditto Lucky Gunner selling ammunition. If the Santa Fe chumbucket told them, “Can you ship this to my Mom cause I’m underage,” they’d have cause to know and would have stopped the sale. But if someone makes a credit card purchase, has the name and address right, and the security code from the back of the card, it’s reasonable to expect the person is an adult.
As Lucky Gunner has said in a public statement regarding the suit . . .
Contrary to the claims, our company complied with all laws in making the subject sale; the suspect committed many crimes to include deliberately misrepresenting himself.
It sounds as if Lucky Gunner was, in fact, lied to by the shooter about his age. Imagine that.
I hope Everytown is a little more responsible than Brady, and won’t leave the Santa Fe family on the hook to pay Lucky Gunner’s legal expenses. After all, they have Michael Bloomberg’s billions backing them. But I wouldn’t bet on it.