The Lawsuit Against the Websites That Sold to The Aurora Shooter: A Review

Yesterday, two parents of a victim of the Aurora, Colorado shooting, represented by lawyers from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed suit against a number of online retailers including Lucky Gunner and Sportsman’s Guide alleging that they should have known that the Aurora shooter (who will remain nameless) was dangerous and mentally unstable and refused to sell him thousands of rounds of ammo, various magazines, body armor, and tear gas.

The actual legal brief (copied from bradycampaign.org) is an interesting read, which makes the case by thoroughly enumerating the shooter’s unusual behavior before the shooting, from being turned down by grad school, to maintaining a dating site profile with the quote “Will you visit me in prison?”, plus private emails, and his now-infamous denied application to join a local gun club based on his strange behavior.

What the complaint does not elucidate, and what (in my completely un-lawyer-educated opinion) the entire case will turn on is how online retailers were supposed to be aware of these isolated incidents and construct from them the compelling picture, in hindsight, that we have of a disturbed individual and deny him what was, given his clean record, lawful possession of magazines, ammo, body armor, and tear gas.

It does, however, spell out in detail, where the shooter acquired each piece of gear used, including the rifle, pistol, and shotgun he used in the massacre. All three were purchased, in person, from local area sporting goods retailers. Notably, those companies are not named in the complaint, despite the fact that the weapons used are much more directly responsible for the numerous unlawful murders and attempted murders committed in that movie theater. This absence is caused by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a 2005 law that prohibits civil suits such as this from being filed against manufacturers or dealers of weapons used in the commission of crimes.

This, then, appears to be an attempt to re-enact the successful suits that led to the Act being passed, except this time on the more peripheral dealers of equipment such as magazines, tear gas, and body armor. If those previous suits were fruitful for the Brady Campaign, unfortunately perhaps this one will be too.

Reading the complaint, it clearly has the fingerprints of the anti-gunners all over it. During one series of statements of fact detailing the sequence of the attack, they couldn’t help but mention that:

The .223-caliber Smith & Wesson AR-15 assault rifle was equipped with a drum magazine that could hold up to 100 rounds and shoot as many as 60 times in a minute.

The deadliness of the magazine is, at worst irrelevant and at best more suited to a different part of the document detailing the criminal effects possible with the specified equipment. But like any good gun banner, whoever wrote that part couldn’t pass up getting an emotional jab in.

Even more evocative is the seven pages of statements, all variations on the template:

As a result of [the killer's] shooting spree made possible by the 100 round drum magazine, ammunition, tear gas, and body armor that the Defendants negligently provided, [victim] sustained gunshot wounds to [wound locations].

I’ll freely admit that it is a very difficult seven pages to read. Injuries, disfigurements, surgeries, and rehabilitations. But on the bottom of the same page as the last of those enumerations is this:

Despite [the shooter's] alarming behavior, upon information and belief, the Defendants did not make reasonable inquiries into [his] purchases, nor did the Defendants take any extra precautions when selling [him] weapons, accessories, and ammunition, or ask [him] why he wanted the items.

As horrific as his crimes were, this accusation tucked away on page 17 is a gigantic logical leap. Unfortunately, if the 90s-era lawsuits against gun makers and dealers are any example, this case might just have a snowball’s chance in hell.

Gun Talk Listeners Sponsor Shaneen Allen Billboards in NJ

Tom Gresham has been working with his Gun Talk Radio show listeners about the Shaneen Allen case (Pennsylvania mother arrested for carrying a concealed handgun in NJ who is facing more than a decade in prison for doing nothing more than crossing a state line with her gun) to raise money and put up billboards in NJ to raise awareness about the case.

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Just about an hour ago the above photo was posted on the Gun Talk Facebook page.

I think its a cool way to raise awareness. If you want to help support the effort, SAF is handling the money, just make a donation and put “NJ Billboard Project” in the comment section.

GRNC Looking Into the Questionable Posting of the NC State Fairgrounds

Last fall, I wrote a post about the NC State Fairgrounds being posted against carry with “No Weapons” signs during the NC State Fair. I went through all of the relevant statutes that I could find about concealed carry, and I wasn’t able to find the legal justification for the state to post the signs that they did.

I pushed the post from last year out to the Facebook group again this week, and we had some discussion on the issue. Yesterday, Andy Stevens, a guy who does a LOT more for gun rights in our state than he gets credit for (just listen to this bonus episode of the podcast where Ben interviewed him), posted the following message on the above linked Facebook post:

Andy Stevens

I’m excited to see where this goes.

Buying Gear Can Help Your Skills – 99

We spend a lot of time on the blog and podcast talking about how it’s much superior to learn skills to actually get better at something (shooting mostly) than buying new tools that don’t actually make you better. After talking with Ben a bit this week though, we realized that sometimes buying something new can help to make you better, because having the cool new thing gives you more motivation to practice.

The News:

IDPA ruled the CZ Accu-Shadow illegal for SSP division just hours before the IDPA Nationals started. This decision left definitely put a hurting on some shooters who were traveling across the country to shoot the Nationals because of the poor timing of it.

The California school vice-principal that we talked about in Episode 97 is now suing for wrongful arrest because he was not breaking the law when arrested for having a handgun on school grounds. Turns out, a California CCW permit allows the permit holder to carry in a school. (Yet an NC permit does not…)

We play the audio of a 911 call from a Phoenix, AZ woman who was confronted by a home invader that she ended up shooting. It’s interesting to hear the difference in the woman’s voice before the shooting, after the shooting, and once the police arrive. She goes from whispering so she won’t be found by him, to yelling and telling him to shut up after shooting him, to sounding like shes about ready to hyperventilate once the police officers take control of the scene. I edited the clip pretty heavily in the podcast to save time, but you can hear the entire thing in the above link.

Plug of the Week

This week we plugged Instagram in general. If you like easily consumed shooting match videos, get over on instagram and follow the #IDPA and #USPSA hashtags. We’re over there too, so make sure to follow us as well.

Everyday Preparedness

September is National Preparedness Month, so take some time to prepare for things that will actually happen.

  • Power will go out

  • Water will become undrinkable or stop flowing to the tap

  • Tires go flat

  • Fires happen

The month is about half gone already, so go change the batteries in your smoke detector, buy a couple cases of water, and check the air pressure in your spare tire. Don’t put it off.

Call to Action

We really like all of the voicemails we’ve been getting lately, but we need more of them.

H2O Fowl Farms IDPA September 2014 Match Report

On Saturday I shot the H2O Fowl Farms September IDPA match. I added most of my comments in the video as a voice-over, so have a watch:

I made some very amateur mistakes that I need to work on going forward. I’ve already ditched the extended slide stop (which I knew would create a problem when I purchased the pistol, I just never bothered to swap it out), and hopefully I won’t have to deal with the slide not locking back again.