Todd Kohlhepp
Todd Kohlhepp (Josh Morgan/The Independent-Mail via AP)
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Reader John Dingell III writes . . .

Todd Kohlhepp pleaded guilty in 2017 to murdering seven people in South Carolina between 2003 and 2016. Kohlhepp pleaded guilty to kidnapping in 1987 as a juvie and was registered as a sex offender who could not purchase firearms legally.

Dustan Lawson pleaded guilty to purchasing 29 guns and multiple AAC suppressors on behalf of Kohlhepp in 2018. One of those firearms, a .40 S&W caliber GLOCK, was used by Kohlhepp to kill Johnny Joe Coxie in 2015.

Now Coxie’s mother has filed suit against Academy Sports and Outdoors, saying the store should never have sold the guns to Kohlhepp, who was a “straw purchaser.”

This lawsuit attempts to end-run the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, claiming that Academy didn’t sufficiently vet Lawson and should have known he was a straw purchaser.

Dustan Lawson


The lawsuit names Lawson and the store where he bought many of the guns, Academy Sports and Outdoors, saying the store should never have sold the guns to Kohlhepp through a “straw purchaser.” The confessed serial killer was already a convicted felon and not allowed to buy or own guns when he killed Johnny Coxie, according to the lawsuit filed in December.

The store supplied “an arsenal of at least nine weapons to a ‘straw purchaser,’ the Defendant Lawson, and, thereby, arming a serial killer.” That included the Glock .40 used to kill Coxie, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit argues the store should have known Lawson was buying the guns for someone else because of his age, inexperience, use of cash and other reasons.

Academy Sports, in its motion to throw out the lawsuit, said it is not responsible because Lawson lied to the store when he bought the guns.

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  1. I feel sorry for her, but if the store was able to tell if he was a straw purchaser we wouldn’t need that expensive background check system would we. Clerks would know whether or not someone was a criminal, or nuts, or not allowed to have firearms for some other reason. If this doesn’t get thrown out of court we will know for certain that some judges are nuts and shouldn’t be on the bench. The lawyer who took her case should be disbarred for being greedy. And constitutionally stupid.

    • And if they deny a sale to a protected minority because they feel a bad vibe they get sued for that.

      Damned if they do fucked if they dont.

      • “And if they deny a sale to a protected minority because they feel a bad vibe they get sued for that.”

        The BATF (and *really* big fires) actually covers gun dealer’s asses on that one.

        Unless the gun dealer says something stupid like “I’m not selling to blacks”, pretty much any other reason for denying a sale, even something nebulous like “the buyer was giving me weird vibes” or the customer had behaviors that make the dealer uncomfortable, BATF policy allows the dealer to refuse the sale.

        I had one of those in the 90s, and asked the shop owner to handle the customer. BATF is pretty good about backing the sellers in cases like that…

        • I was denied entry into a bar when I was 25. Bouncer said my ID wasn’t my ID. Who can I sue? I identify as a protected class. That kinda ruined the night-out-with-the-girls. (many years ago.)

        • ” That kinda ruined the night-out-with-the-girls. (many years ago.)”

          You consider 15 years to be “many years”? 😉

    • Absolutely right. So far, to the best of my knowledge, store clerks don’t have the infinite knowledge necessary to automatically know who is buying a firearm as a “straw purchaser”. Even if the Federal law demanded that gun purchasers tell if they are buying weapons for someone else, “straw purchasers” would just lie about their motives for purchasing firearms. No way for clerks to read the minds of purchasers.

      • The law does demand if the purchaser is buying the weapon for someone else. In fact one of the first questions on ATF 4473 (#11.a) is: “Are you the actual transferree/buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form?

        If you are, no problem. If you are not, that is a straw purchase, and no sale.

        Put the straw purchaser in jail, and leave the store and clerk alone. No way they could have known.

    • Academy. and it’s employees, has been known to make up their own “laws”. Not selling rifles to anyone under 21 being one such “Law.” They go above the Federal requirements.
      Also, plenty of straw purchasers have been let go by the BATF in recent years. Someone needs to file on them

    • READ the original lawsuit, repeated purchases of the same or similar weapons, the purchase of multiple weapons in one day, and his use of cash in the sales.

      But then again, given what MKS Supply owner Charles Brown got away with I think Academy is safe.

      (And google is your friend)

      • “READ the original lawsuit, repeated purchases of the same or similar weapons, the purchase of multiple weapons in one day, and his use of cash in the sales.”

        All of which I have done. But I keep the guns I buy.
        How is a seller know who does what to the guns they buy?
        Inexperience is also listed as a “giveaway” that the buyer is a straw purchaser. But those buying their first guns are also inexperienced.
        According to the Greenville News, the judge heard arguments on the motion to dismiss on the 12th of this month, and is expected to rule at a later date.

      • If any of the guns sold were handguns and you sold multiples of them (I forget if its two or three) in a single day or over a particular period of time then we FFL’s have to fill out a Federal “Multiple Disposition of certain firearms” form and submit it to the FBI guys within 24 hours. I’ve both bought and sold enough handguns in a single day or defined time period and the paperwork still gives no insight into the brain of the buyer or seller…
        And nine firearms is not necessarily “an arsenal”
        These are my thought before I start drinking tonight. I had an Intoximeter 1000 installed on my laptop so I can’t get upset while having a few and try to release my inner self.

        • It’s Form 3310.4, “Report of Multiple Sale or Other
          Disposition of Pistols and Revolvers” and must be done if the same person receives 2 or more handguns within 5 consecutive business days.

          The other one is Form 3310.12, “Report of Multiple Sale or Other Disposition of Certain Rifles” and is only applicable to dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.

          • I wonder how the FBI looks at these forms, especially if they receive multiples with the same person’s information on them over a period of time? I have bought 2 handguns at a time multiple times. Shortest time frame between purchases is maybe a year or just over. The last two handguns I bought at the same time was my set of S&W model 69 Combat Magnums.

        • Form 3310.4 is pretty easy to circumvent. All one need do is buy from different dealers.
          I’ve bought more than one handgun in the same day from different tables at gun shows.

  2. The victim’s lawyer who filed the lawsuit should be disbarred. Given that the facts are against him, his lawsuit is nothing but predatory.

    • Usually they settle out of court because the store doesn’t want to spend more for a lengthy trial. A mattress store paid $$$ to parents of a kid who fell (off) jumping on mattresses. A small injury was a big win for the parents.

  3. I guess the straw purchaser lacks deep pockets and substantial assets. Yeah I know it’s not about money and instead changing society for the better.
    Next up car dealer sued because he sold a car to someone who lent it to a habitual drunk driver who list their license who then killed someone’s son in a wreck

    Different? I don’t see how.

  4. The deceased’s mother is being victimized a second time by the lawyers and probably others “nudging” her as an Useful Idiot to push gun control agendas.

  5. Academy Sports is only slightly better than Dick’s Sporting Goods. If it was a store that didn’t ebb and wane after every crime involving guns than I would be more concerned. However Dick’s, Academy, Rock River Arms, and Springfield Armory can take a long walk off a short cliff and I really wouldn’t care. Turning on your customer base is like biting the hand that feeds you. The freedom of a capitalist market is sweeter than ever in instances like this.

    • Only slightly better as you say, the Academy store here did remove EBRs from their shelves for a short time after one of the shootings, forget which one, you had to ask to see a specific one. They returned to the shelves after a while.

      The serial killer is local news to me as well. One of his victims, the one chained in the container I think, was arrested the other day on a DV charge. My thought was let her off easy because her mind must be soo screwed up after that nightmare.

      • Again the beauty of a capitalist market is I can choose where I spend my money as can you. Those 4 companies will never see another dime from me. Yes I have shopped at Dick’s and Academy in the past and I have owned Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms products in the past as well.

  6. Ford SHOULD KNOW!!! people get drunk then drive their cars, killing people!
    Chevrolet SHOULD KNOW!!! Teenagers text and drive killing themselves and their friends!
    McDonald’s SHOULD KNOW!!!! their food causes obesity!!!


    • Those companies don’t stop selling products at the whim of every tragedy involving their products though. Academy has pulled products from their shelves catering to the left. To hell with Academy Sports.

      • Dick’s has done that many times, but I have not heard of Academy Sports doing anything like that. Can you provide instances where they have done this?

      • Just checked Academy Sports, and they’re selling ARs. It looks like they did pull them, temporarily, in the past. Just because they make a business or liability decision to pull ARs doesn’t make them anti-gun in my opinion. Now, if they make a big production and virtue signal to the world about destroying their stock of evil guns, thereby throwing some of their customers under the bus (like Dick’s), that’s different. If they go out of their way to try to keep their competition from selling the same product they willingly got rid of (like Dick’s), that’s also different.

        • Semantics in my opinion. The concept of business is to supply a product or service to customers within a given market to make money (turn a profit). Dick’s and Academy are in business for that purpose and part of their chosen market is guns and ammo. They chose that market no one else. Making business decisions based on the whims of political winds isn’t smart and down right dangerous. In times like these it would be smart to dig deep for that bigger set of balls and keep heading for the end zone. The end zone being not making your customer base mad affecting your profit margin.

        • The local Academy never went up on ammo during the couple of shortages a few years back. They took ARs off the shelf for a couple of days, but put them back almost immediately. They have never price gouged even when everyone else did. They’ve never made any political statements against firearms. Don’t think they compare in any way with Dicks.

          • Removing firearms from the shelves with the threat of not selling them anymore was a political statement. That in and of itself is a direct comparison to Dick’s. Just because Dick’s got worse doesn’t make Academy right. Academy being wishy-washy doesn’t make them right either. If you think they are so wonderful and want to support them that’s your right. It’s my right to be done with them. If I want to shop at a big box store there are others.

  7. The 1.35+ million lawyers in the US have to compete for every case (or perceived case) to maintain their median income of $121,000 per year. A big, nationally reverberating, case can fund them for years to come (ie. Johnnie Cochran)…it’s the lawyer version of winning a jackpot or striking a bonanza. Sadly, our lawyer mills continue to puke them out in increasing numbers where they serve as a disease vector increasing the discord in Society.

    Shakespeare was right.

  8. I hope she has her checkbook ready for when the suit gets thrown out and she’s ordered to pay Acadamy’s legal fees.

    • Or sometimes even having to pay the defendant’s legal fees. People don’t seem to realize that’s a real possibility. Ask Stormy Daniels how that worked out.

  9. “age, inexperience, use of cash and other reasons.”
    Maybe it’s a bad photo but I see some gray hairs on Mr. Lawson. He’s for sure no callow youth, definitely over 21, so how old is old enough? Inexperience? I have 20 years on Lawson and I have no experience buying a suppressor; I guess all the questions I would have should be a red flag. Lastly, since when is paying with the nation’s legal tender grounds for suspicion? Lots of people don’t want, or can’t get a credit card.

  10. Springfield armory make good guns and generally good employees; it’s the Benedict Judas owner that sold us out.

    • Just received my final edition of National Rifleman magazine (I allowed my NRA membership to expire). The whole thing was filled with ads for Savage Arms and Springfield Armory guns, with a few articles sprinkled in between. You’d think they owned the magazine all by themselves.

  11. Yeah, we all feel bad, but I would love to know who’s coaching her and quite possibly footing the attorney fees.

  12. Academy has all firearms purchasers fill out, and go through a background check. Obviously, this purchaser was cleared through the (Government) background check, If he had failed the check, Academy would deny him a purchase.

    • Anyone who has purchased a gun from Academy knows how laughable this is. My local one is EXTREMELY professional and thorough on questioning buyers. Some people don’t use Academy because the store is so meticulous in that regard. They don’t just ask or hand you the form. They discuss it, review it, pass it to a manager to review, discuss it again…

      Even when picking up the item 3 days later, they have a second person ask if the first person covered everything, etc, etc. Personally I like buying there, but some people think they get carried away with it.

      • Then on to knives…gasoline…bats…etc etc etc
        at some some point they will ban men altogether, too

          • Acid seems to be a popular offensive weapon in Londonstan as well. Thousands of documented acid attacks in the UK over the past 3 – 4 years. Elderly, middle, young and children have all been victims.

            There are bullies, cowards and A**holes in every society who prey on the weak or unprotected…at least here in the USA we (in most places) can respond defensively to a lethal force attack with a commensurate use of force.

  13. should have known he was a straw purchaser.- and just how should they have known that?
    Maybe if he bought 5 of the same guns, in the same caliber…at the same time…but even then…come on…

    • Nope. It doesn’t matter what someone buys, or how many. If it’s our natural right to own guns for defense or any sporting purpose, then no limits may be applied. What if the guy wanted to buy 10 guns in the same caliber at the same time? Who cares? Perhaps he needs them for rentals at his shooting range, or he teaches a class, or just wants to have a standardized set so he can have one hidden in every room of his house, plus one in the car, etc.

  14. “Mother of Serial Killer’s Victim Sues Academy Sports for Selling Guns to Straw Purchaser”

    The very definition of “frivolous”…

  15. If paying cash is a reason to suspect criminal intent then I am in trouble, I have always paid cash for firearms.

      • No they can’t. They know the store and transaction number, that’s it. If it is a gun store, they cash surmise that you are buying a gun, but they have no indication of it.

        • I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Was on a trip and stopped at a truck stop to replace a broken CB. About 20 miles later I had to again stop at a drug store to by some cold medicine and used the ATM. Five minutes after the last purchase my bank (I had used the bank credit card) called and asked if I had bought a CB radio and withdrawn cash at the ATM at the drug store. My usage was flagged since it was in a area out of my usual travel and in an some algorithm went into effect. I didn’t think about it till later, but they knew exactly what I bought. I just thought it was good they were watching out for me, but now I wonder.

        • Yes they can, and not only that, they do…believe it or not, the CC companies know EVERYTHING you buy(when using a card), and everything about you…

  16. Mother of Serial Killer’s Victim Sues Academy Sports for Selling Guns to Straw Purchaser

    That’s dumb. If he killed them with a knife would you sue the store that sold it? Would you sue the manufacturer that made it? No. Retardation.

    Academy should have zero culpability for any item they sell used in an illegal manner.

    Blame the person responsible for the crime – not the store that sold it.

    • That thought never occurs to them! “He had a bad childhood”! That and all the democrat lawyers knockin on her door.

  17. Regardless of culpability or guilt or the law. There are only 3 things needed to win these types of law suits. 1) a reasonably good lawyer. 2) A judge who allows the case to go to trial. 3) a sympathetic jury. Not saying it’s right. It’s just the way it is. This is why most of these types of trials end in a settlement. No matter what anybody says. It’s always about the money.

  18. Tell her to sue the government, they approved his background check which liberal fools like her demanded. Evil people are evil. The best remedy is convict then kill them.

  19. Using this logic, no one can ever sell a gun to a black male, or a Latino with face tattoos. I mean, shouldn’t they know better? *sarcasm*

  20. Ehhhh…I have witnessed a straw purchase. At Cabelas,Hammond,IN. They sure as he!! should have noticed. No sympathy for anyone involved here

  21. Unless the Serial Killer was standing right next to straw purchaser she doesn’t have a case.

  22. Quote: “Dustan Lawson pleaded guilty to purchasing 29 guns and multiple AAC suppressors on behalf of Kohlhepp in 2018.” The purchases were made at a legitimate gun store which means that Lawson passed the background check every time. Obviously since he passed the background check he was of legal age and I don’t know how any one would know about his inexperience without watching him fire weapons. As for using cash, some people have suggested that credit card companies either prevent credit cards from being used to purchase weapons/ammo or turn over such information to the federal government, which has zero authority to collect such information.

    • At least in the state where I reside, if the purchaser has a current CC permit, it makes the purchase faster and smoother. I go to the dealer, hand them my CC permit and my drivers license which has a photo of me, and then they take care of their part of the process.

      It’s possible that the guy had a proper CC permit.

  23. I’ve always paid cash for a firearm purchases. Never paid with a credit card or check, and I’ve been buying guns, ammo and accessories for nearly 45 years. On the same note, 90% of the guns I’ve purchased have been with the same store and owner. I’ve watched as the owner has asked questions of a newbie to his store with the purpose of him knowing who he is selling too. Someone being inexperienced is not in the criteria for denying purchase. Everyone is inexperienced at some point in their lives. Heck, if I wanted to purchase a suppressor, my gun dealer would be the person I talked with first, simply because of how much misinformation is out there. I trust him to know the laws and hurdles I need to complete before making the purchases. Was the guy an idiot for buying a gun for someone else? Yep.
    When my son and daughter turned 21, their gift from me was their first pistol. I told my dealer what and why, and then stayed out of the way until they’d chosen which gun they wanted and filled out their form 4473. My contribution was to open my wallet and wish them a Happy Birthday. They own it, it’s their background check, I just paid for it as a present. That was 7 years ago for my youngest. Both are responsible and CC permit holders. The oldest is a LEO now.

    • Best way to purchase a gun for someone else in my opinion. I bought my father-in-law a pistol as a gift and had him meet me at the gun store. He filled out the 4473 and I paid for afterwards. If he couldn’t pass the background check it would have been my purchase at that point by filling out my own 4473 and I would have kept the gun.

      • “If he couldn’t pass the background check it would have been my purchase at that point by filling out my own 4473 and I would have kept the gun.”

        I doubt most FFLs would have continued the sale at that point as it becomes a potential straw purchase. Hell, you paying for it and him filling out the 4473 is already a straw purchase as the ATF sees it.

        • I already had the pistol I was buying him so I wouldn’t have bought the same gun. I have been buying guns from that dealer for quite a while and he knew me well enough to know I won’t fill out a 4473 and buy a gun for anyone, which is why my father-in-law had to go to the gun shop with me and fill the form out himself. I have no doubt the dealer would have sold ME a gun had my father-in-law been denied. I wasn’t too concerned since he had purchased other firearms on his own before this. I personally don’t see the issue since he passed the background check for said firearm I paid for as a gift. The dealer didn’t mind either.

        • The issue is that you paying for a gun that somebody else is filling out the 4473 for is a straw purchase by the ATF’s definition, as the person filling out the form isn’t the actual buyer/purchaser. I know it doesn’t make sense, and I don’t agree with that interpretation, but that’s what they call it.

          The second issue, if he failed the background check, is that you then have a person who wants a gun who can’t have it and a friend there with him that is going to buy it anyway. That rides on the suspicion of the dealer, so if he knows you as you said, shouldn’t be an issue. But if he didn’t, it could be.

  24. I dont have sympathy for Family/relatives who redirect (normally with anti gun org guidance) their emotional loss against law abiding businesses. Their not made whole by a pound of flesh/criminal penalties and want other entities “To Pay”. Every one of these B.S. Case need to end up with the plaintiff paying all Court costs, attorney and related fees, AND the defendant companies need to collect every penny due. Every time companies let “Families” off the hook for “sympathy”: it just empowers others to file frivolous lawsuits in clear violation of the Laws as written.

  25. Strikes an interested observer that the question orquestion to be asked are as follows.

    1. Did the store and it’s employees abide by the requirements of applicable state and federal law in making the sales in question? If procedures required by law at the time of the sale or sales was followed, case closed.

    2. With reference to “AAC supressors”, aka “Silencers”, such items being NFA items, they were not purchased at an ordinary gun store. The sale of NFA items, which include “machineguns” take place at Class 3 licensees, and only after lengthy checks by the ATF, and DOJ, where the ATF currently resides. Someone needs to get their facts straight here.

  26. well then sue the “straw purchaser.” …ohh he or she or IT does not have money or a media presence?

    now we know the ‘why’ behind the lawsuit!

  27. Maybe Mom felt like she didn’t get due justice for her son’s murder when Dawson made a plea deal with the prosecutors and ended up being sentenced to a whopping 87 months in Club Fed, even though he admitted that he knew the serial killer was prohibited as a convicted felon. I think I’d want a piece of somebody, too. She just picked the wrong person. She should have gone after the prosecutor, even though he has immunity. If the law came down hard on the straw purchaser, maybe that crap would stop.

    • Would you want a piece of somebody who gifted the future murderer the baseball bat which was later misused to murder too?
      Yes, straw purchases are illegal and dumb, but shouldn’t we blame the murderer, not the tool he used, (or whoever provided the tool)?

  28. I can’t feel anything but sorry for her, but until we’re able to look at people and predict their future criminal activity then this case is ridiculous. If it held any water we’d already be denying liscences to 16 year olds for DUIs they’d be having 10 years later. Up until we’re actually able to see the future, the left already has a word they use for people who guess other’s criminal intent just from looking at them. That word is “racist”.

  29. This is going to be an unpopular view but thinking back to my days working behind gun counters, I can say that straw purchases were not too hard to spot. One dealer that I worked for was a major chain, and quite often we would get bad vibes from a customer (I won’t go over the many many signs that make your radar go off, but there are a lot). The problem was that managers often wanted the sale, or wanted to avoid having to confront a pissed off customer if we turned him down. Even when the straw purchase was blatant, for example:, some guy with gang tats on his face, picking out the gun, then his girlfriend doing the paperwork, most managers just let it be, and told us to do the processing anyway. This isn’t a flaw in gun ownership, its a flaw of retail culture in general. Honestly, I’d wager that they knew something was up.

    • Ok, so this guy clearly didn’t have gang tats, didn’t have someone with him to pick out the gun to purchase, not an inexperienced/young purchaser, didn’t wear the standard “I’m a straw purchaser” t-shirt; so how you gonna tell? Other than employing a professional psychic to give each buyer a sniff test, that is.

  30. Haven’t bought a gun at Academy. Usually buy from a Mom and Pop store with a better selection of handguns. Do buy with cash. That said, I have tried to look at a gun at Academy. Might have bought it if someone bothered to take the time to show it to me. The Mom and Pop knew if I was buying for myself, my husband, or my underage son, which were all legal.

    I did have a hard time buying a gun from one big box store, when my son accompanied me. They had a hell of a sale on a Sig P226. All sorts of questions, such as did I own any other Sigs. I do. Why did I want to buy this particular Sig? Well, it’s a great gun and it’s marked down nearly $300.00, and, by the way, I have bought here before. I just didn’t have my son tagging along. Didn’t get these questions before.

    This gun was to be legally “gifted” to my son. However, when the salesperson hit me immediately with all these questions, I wasn’t going to tell. I’ve since found out that some stores follow their own rules, to hell with whats legal. I did get some sort of revenge, I guess. This big box sporting goods store shut it’s doors, all locations.

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