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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-plus years. 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 ads).

Then the Wisconsin Supreme Court had dismissed the suit after a lower court revived it in 2018. Now, after an attempt to revive the suit with an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, SCOTUS has finally put an end to this punishment by process, once and for all.

From the Associated Press . . .

The Supreme Court won’t revive a lawsuit against a firearms website over a suburban Milwaukee spa shooting.

The justices rejected an appeal Monday from the daughter of one of three people shot to death by a man who illegally bought a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition from someone he met through Armslist.com.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court dismissed the suit, ruling that federal law protects website operators from liability for posting content from a third party. The state court rejected arguments that websites that enable gun deals must take reasonable care to prevent sales to people prohibited from purchasing firearms. The Wisconsin shooter was under a court order that prohibited him from possessing guns.

A similar lawsuit filed by a Boston police officer is pending in state court in Massachusetts.

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38 COMMENTS

    • This isn’t a ruling — it’s a denial of cert, so it creates no federal precedent. There weren’t at least 4 Justices who thought it was worthy of their time, like 99% of the appeals. Even if the Massachusetts case decides the other way, this case is only precedent in Wisconsin state, so there wouldn’t be a split in federal districts.

      • Agreed 110%. One thing that I’ve noticed is that scotus does pay attention to the pulse of the nation when making their rulings. So I believe it is important for us to continue to present a united front in our support for restoration of our right to what was originally intended. Anything short of that is unacceptable. And that scotus forces the state and local governments to comply with our Constitution – as intended.

    • Nope, they will skip out and leave someone else holding the bag. Again. I think anyone suing a gun manufacturer for anything other than a failure to function as designed should be required to post bond for the amount they are using for with the minimum being one million dollars, and if they lose the bond is paid to the person or persons being sued.

    • Armslist isn’t a manufacturer or dealer, so PLCAA doesn’t apply. They have to foot their own legal bills, so the antis can try to drive them out of business by filing continuous lawsuits. Luckily, criminals buying through legitimate channels is rare, so they’ll have to work to find plaintiffs.

  1. It never ends.

    Now Brady Bunch can join the suit (or at least add funding) about illegal advertising of firearms in a manner to entice young people to act out their fantasies about being macho gunmen.

    • Follow the money. If the Brady Bunch was serious about “gun violence” they would be in the inner cities confronting the gangs with illegal/stolen guns. No money to be had from the gang businesses, but big money from suing legit businesses.

      • “Follow the money.”

        Always good advice. In the matter of suppressing the Second Amendment, money is an artifact, not a motivation. The motivation behind gun control groups is pure evil, pure racism. Take a look at the pictures of all these anti-gun groups. Notice the monochromatic nature of the participants – while liberals. Notice also that none of those pictures are taken in the inner cities – white liberals. Then notice the overall complaint of these white liberals – “We are good people, and we don’t feel safe where good white people congregate.”

  2. Maybe I missed it but was it reported what the split was among SCOTUS or was it unanimous?
    Either way this should put a stop to the similar suits against stores, Bushmaster and whatever else has arisen from the ashes of dead children by people wishing to make a fortune off of their deaths.

  3. Ahh, the tried and true, “but guns…” legal theory. No matter what the law says, “but guns” is all that matters.

    Thank goodness SCOTUS doesn’t play that game.

  4. But, I thought the SCOTUS “hasn’t done a damn thing for the 2A since the ‘Heller’ and ‘McDonald’ cases in 2008 and 2010” as a number of folks here in TTAG have loudly claimed?

    Is there chocolate in my peanut butter, or peanut butter in my chocolate?

    And, who put the “Run” in the “Do run-run”?

    • To Geoff

      Your 100 per cent correct. If you read the entire Scalia decision it actually damaged the right to own guns far more than gun owners realized and gave the Courts far more power over banning guns than they previously had.

  5. Supreme Court Finally Ends Brady … it has a nice ring to it. Now I want to hear SCOTUS rule against NY state’s draconian rules!!

  6. The Brady people knew from the very beginning of the law suit they had no chance of winning but that was not the purpose of the law suit. The real purpose was to gain as much free news media time and outrage as possible to point to the need for a Federal Law vetting all guns through dealers. That was the real purpose of the law suit and the ruling will be used in the upcoming presidential elections. The actual loss of the case will be a big propaganda win for the Brady people in 2020 when they call for Universal Background checks to save the lives of people who would not get killed if prohibited people could not buy guns. Its called seeing the Forest for the Trees and it will be understood by the general public.

  7. Craigslist decided to shut down its ‘personals’ section due to the passage of SESTA/FOSTA, which holds third party sites responsible for enabling sex trafficking, despite merely acting as a billboard for users to advertise. Armslist is currently within their rights, but it’s downright irresponsible for them to facilitate illegal sales under the protection of users totally for realsies pinky swearing to follow all federal, state, and local laws. If a bartender can be held accountable for serving a drunk patron who goes on to crash their car, why can’t a gun owner be held accountable for selling a gun to a complete stranger (specifically one prohibited from purchasing/owning firearms) who uses it for evil?

    • I can’t literally see evil, but apparently you’re functionally illiterate. It’s called form 4473, and it does a pretty good job of weeding out people who cannot legally purchase a firearm.

      • “It’s called form 4473, and it does a pretty good job of weeding out people who cannot legally purchase a firearm.”

        Figures from 2008 – 2015:
        rejected forms – 556,496 (not all are submitted by prohibited persons)
        prosecutions – 32/yr (average)

        Yes, denials stop a transaction at that moment, but the prohibited person violates law just by submitting the form. Yet, only 32 prosecutions per year? And I do not have handy the number of convictions.

        Even assuming all 500,000+ were prevented from committing a crime with a gun purchased through an FFL, we have no way to know if those rejected were prevented from ever purchasing a gun, and using it in a crime.

        Let’s say 1 million guns are purchased legally each month – 12,000,000. 12 million each of seven years = 84 million 4473 submissions. How does that compare to the rejections (500,000 rejections as percentage of purchases)? 0.006% were rejected. Heckuva burden on people who have done nothing wrong.

        Unless, of course, one adopts the line that the entire population of the nation must be restrained even if it only prevents one crime, for one instance in time.

  8. Instead of jumping on the second amendment which btw has nothing to do with criminals or their intent to be so, why not land on and start doing something that will actually eliminate some if not all of the problem, a lot better than stupid gun laws that are unenforceable therefore ignored, and ineffective.
    That would be the eighth amendment nothing about infringement in that one. I’ll help you get started. Bail remove it completely how many times have criminals with rap sheets longer than the Mississippi River been released on bail only to be captured for the same or worse crime that they are out on bail before going to court on that offense. Next bring back the death penalty make it by hanging in public. Nothing cruel or unusual about that, was done in this country for over a hundred years. If that bothers you use the guillotine, was used for centuries, or, machete, beheadings still being done by Muslim Sharia law today. Guaranteed a swift and speedy trial fine, make the execution of sentence just as swift and speedy. They don’t wait decades to incarcerate somebody sentenced to life, they lock the guilty up before the jury even leaves the box, why not do the same when the sentence is death?

    • “That would be the eighth amendment nothing about infringement in that one.”

      Might be a tough uphill sled on that one. These days, any serious punishment is becoming unusual, therefore cruel.

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