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.
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.