Legal Issues

Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Trying to Shutdown Online Ammo and Firearm Sales

Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Logo

Cheaper Than Dirt! customers and Shooter’s Log readers should know that the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is trying to shut down online ammunition and firearms accessories sales by hanging the actions of an alleged killer on a handful of businesses.

Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Logo
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is suing businesses that supplied ammunition and gear to alleged Aurora shooter James Holmes.

Websites that supplied Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes with ammunition, body armor, tear gas and other equipment used in his assault were negligent, according to a lawsuit announced last week by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Arnold & Porter LLP.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Colorado’s Arapahoe County District Court, seeks injunctions requiring the defendants to reform their business practices. Of course, none of the businesses have been charged with criminal wrongdoing.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was shot and killed in the Aurora movie theater shooting in 2012. The suit alleges that the websites negligently supplied Holmes with the arsenal he used to kill 12 people and wound at least 58 others.

The lawsuit names Lucky Gunner (BulkAmmo.com), which allegedly sold Holmes over 4,000 rounds of ammunition; The Sportman’s Guide, which allegedly sold Holmes a 100-round drum ammunition magazine and 700 rounds; BulletProofBodyArmorHQ.com, which allegedly sold Holmes multiple pieces of body armor; and BTP Arms, which allegedly sold him two canisters of tear gas, as defendants.

This is just the latest salvo by the Brady Campaign to slip gun and ammunition sales prohibitions through the back door of the legal system, since the campaign’s legislative efforts at the federal and state levels have largely stalled.

Make no mistake about it, Brady’s goals with this lawsuit are much grander than they might appear, as Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and co-counsel for Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, said in a statement.

“A crazed, homicidal killer should not be able to amass a military arsenal, without showing his face or answering a single question, with the simple click of a mouse,” said Lowy. “If businesses choose to sell military-grade equipment online, they must screen purchasers to prevent arming people like James Holmes. Sandy and Lonnie Phillips have brought this lawsuit to make sellers of lethal arms and military equipment use reasonable care. ”

“Two years ago when our daughter Jessica was murdered, and we first heard the details of the massacre, I asked my husband: ‘How can anyone order over 4,000 rounds of ammunition without raising any red flags? Why weren’t any questions asked of the person who bought all of this ammunition?” said Sandy Phillips. “As gun owners, parents, and citizens of this country, we hope that our lawsuit will spare other families the tragedy that we have gone through after the death of our beautiful daughter.”

The complaint alleges that each of the online businesses failed to use reasonable safeguards to prevent dangerous people like James Holmes from obtaining high-capacity ammunition magazines, thousands of rounds of ammunition, body armor and tear gas used in his assault. Business practices that disregard these well-known risks and allow people like Holmes to purchase such products without any screening are unreasonably dangerous and create a public nuisance, according to the complaint.

But as Cheaper Than Dirt! customers know, there is not a federal law requiring background checks on ammunition sales. Also, Holmes passed background checks when he purchased four firearms, so it’s difficult to see how the online businesses will be held liable for his later actions that they couldn’t reasonably have foreseen.

Also, University of Colorado campus police didn’t stop Holmes, despite being warned about his mental state by Holmes’ psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton.

Do you think the Brady suit stands a chance in court? Let us hear from you in the comment section.

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Comments (31)

  1. Another clear example of why we must keep alert , keep spreading the message, keep making people aware, keep banging the drum of freedom, it will be up to the very few to stand up for what is right, as most gun owners say they support the 2nd, few take the time out of their lives to make their voice heard, few are as passionate about standing up for the 2nd as those that want to destroy it are. I hate to say it but the complacency of many gun owners will be our downfall just as it was Great Britain’s and Australia’s, Many will wake one day and say ‘WTF happened?”

    even those that don’t own a gun, how easy it is to loose our rights, this time our second amendment, next time something that important to them.
    when we loose the right to carry the right to self preservation , we have eventually lost all of our rights.

  2. Pass?, not…yet. But watch out. We are living during a time of hysteria and propaganda with a population to match.

    Here in WA STATE we are up against a similar horrific gun rights problem, Initiative 594. Financed by billionaires, some out of State, the law promises a decrease crime by closing a so-called “loophole” in the sale of guns. Long story short, the 18 page Initiative is complex and clearly written for other purposes.

    But here’s the point, just like the law you present, many people fall for slick advertising and buy into promises based on skewed factoids, and or outright lies.

    Billionaires finance propaganda and sway the emotions, preying on the reactive misinformed using key words like, “criminal, safety, loophole, gunshows,” etc.

    It is entirely possible for laws to pass and destroy your Rights. It seems many people are too quick to pass laws which amend or change the Constitution without recognizing the weight of what they support.

    Gun rights and speech are on the table and the only way to resolve is through education, to place the efforts on the causes not the reactions. A focus on our social fabric and health is imperative. But fighting off the far left billionaires is difficult at best, one of which I have no specific ideas.

  3. Why are the gun owners who were denied their rights to protect themselves, not bringing suits against the theater owner/owners?
    This business denied the gun owners their CONSTITUTIONAL and civil RIGHTS! They then failed to provide adequate protection for those same people!!
    Fail to clear your walkways/steps, someone slips and you are held liable for not providing for their safety.

  4. Ok…more people die in car crashes, than by guns..so lets attack gm…bmw…and all the dealers that sell them…oh yeah we didnt talk about alcohol, all those manufactures and bars… People are stupid by nature!!

  5. Does it really matter where he got his ammo from? If he was able to buy four guns and pass the background check then it shouldn’t matter where he got the ammo from. Big 5, Walmart or online, either way he was going to get the ammo. This lawsuit makes no sense to me.

  6. Let me see, If I recall correctly, Holmes had been able to legally purchase his firearms because his legal records had never been updated to reflect the Mental issues that would have ineligible to purchase a firearm.

    As a result, he could have walked into a store and bought as much ammo as he wanted.

    So you think that “Ammunition control” is now going to accomplish your objective? Drive ammo sales underground. . . what a concept. . .

    IF that were the case, why didn’t Brady, Schummer, Feinstein and such include it in their original AWB?

    But then, I recall the contents of the proposed Second version which you wanted SO badly, that Schummer referenced when he said you’ve seen the camels nose under the tent, now here is the rest of the camel. .

    which required an “arsenal license” if you had more than 10 firearms, and prohibited grave limits on ammunition.

    Once again, the idiots at Brady campaign et all, are going to stoke massive sales of ammunition. and probably guns as well . .

    These idiots have been the firearm manufacturers BEST friend with your foolish attempts at control.

    And tell me prey tell Brady bunch, how many mass murders have used 4,000 rounds before someone stopped them? (except Hitler, China, RUssia or perhaps North Korea.)

    1. As I have read, “Every oppressive government in history that has abused it’s own people first used gun control to disarm their citizens…”

    1. * Kim Campbell.

      But, there’s GOOD and BAD, on BOTH side NOW. The changing of the times, I guess! Someone you could trust 10-years ago, you can’t trust now. And, it seem to be growing. “Taking A Life Of It Own.”

  7. Wow! I’ve bought a lot of ammo online from BulkAmmo.com. Like CTD, they’re a great retailer to deal with for ammo. The majority if the ammo I purchase is done online. It’s the only place I can get ammo in the quantities I want as well as specific types. It’s pretty much impossible to find, say, 30.06 M2 Ball ammo that I need to shoot in my M1 Garand at Wal Mart or a sporting goods store.

    However, I don’t see this suit getting too far… Ammo is a basic commodity, like soft drinks or potato chips, but if I buy a pallet-load of Coca Cola and die while drinking it, is the Coca Cola company responsible for my death? Nope. I am since I bought and used the commodity. Same thing with ammo. It doesn’t do anything unless you fire it from a gun, smack it with a hammer, or throw it in the fire. Point is, those are all things done by someone who has the ammo, not the manufacturer or the vendor. But I know such logic is in short supply these days.

    One more reason I don’t see this going far is what recently happened where I live in California… A leftist state senator tried to pass a bill (SB-53) that would have required a permit to purchase ammo, tracked individual ammo purchases, and done away with online sales/purchases of ammo in the state. The bill ultimately was not passed and was defeated in the assembly via bipartisan action. If such a thing could take place in as anti-gun of a state as California, this suit likely won’t get anywhere in Colorado…

    1. Under normal circumstances, I might agree with you, however, in today’s progressive/socialist/Marxist climate, the left has been getting away with murder of the rights of the individual on behalf of their agenda. The Executive Branch is filled with lefties and the anti-gun crowd starts at the very top, and has been backed by Holder. Members of the Supreme Court have been more vocally anti-American/anti-Constitution than I can ever recall. The AG refuses to comply with government committees and courts, and when he loses his last run, he resigns as a way out. Ginsberg says she will not retire from SCOTUS until a solid liberal has been picked to replace her, and the talk starts naming Holder to succeed her. One of the most racists, bigoted, anti-gun progressives in government on SCOTUS would be a disaster for the nation. Sharpton and his group say they should pick the next AG. And through it all, people who have never held a weapon, let alone fired one, have no problem with rescinding the 2nd Amendment (no matter what they claim, it’s the same method they used in Australia).

      This is NOT the same country it used to be. The case never should have surfaced since it was long ago decided that the seller is not responsible for the actions of the purchaser. (the case was GM I think.)
      A lot of cases which should never have been approved have been allowed to proceed.

      Either people have forgotten that the Constitution is the law of the land, or they intentionally ignore it. They have either forgotten that it guarantees their rights as well as the rights the seek to limit. Our nation is lost unless we can turn things around, and return to the Constitutional government we were given. Otherwise, I can see a Civil War II or Revolutionary War II building.

    2. The very real danger from this lawsuit is two-pronged:
      1) It plants the seed of a legal precedent — if the suit fails because the law doesn’t support such an expanded notion of liability, that will inspire a political push to ‘reform” the law so that on-line retailers can be “held accountable” for their actions.
      2) It makes the business threat of being similarly targeted a deterrent to engaging in on-line ammo sales. With the intense price competition between on-line sellers (who can surely match their sales volume to their rankings on ammoseek and gunbot), most of these retailers are forced to operate on razor-thin profit margins. How many entrepeneurs will be willing to risk the costs of defending themselves, probably in a remote state, against a similar suit?

  8. Consise and to the point all in one paragraph. To reinterate another line: James Bond said you’ll kill X amount of people if you set off that bomb. Goldfinger came back with American Motorists Kill that many people every 2 years.

  9. I’m not a lawyer, but I think there are plenty of precedents and statutory law that says a manufacturer or merchant is not liable for the unlawful use of a legal product, legally sold. Even if Brady wins the initial suit through a friendly, anti-2A judge, it’s hard to imagine that decision surviving appeal. Brady would probably have a stronger case if they sued the facility owner for disarming patrons then not providing on-site security sufficient to deter, stop, or minimize a felonious attack.

  10. It doesn’t matter if the law suit is correct or not. This is just another way to have arms dealers spend money to defend their legal businesses! Suits like this would not be entertained if there were consequences for the party bringing the action. I believe that in the event the Brady people lose the case, they should have to pay all the legal fees incurred by the people they sued, and also pay damages and make up for loss of business. When this comes to pass, you’ll see a drastic drop in BS law suits!

  11. Why do the Brady people feel they need to be the protectors of everyone??? Actually, they don’t… They want money, that’s all it is…

    They, along with Bloomberg’s group and the moms against common sense or whatever can all get together and raise all the money they can from people that have no common sense

    They can’t change laws because the position of lawmaker is really lucrative, and they can’t stop anybody from getting a gun illegally on the street in any major city 24/7 for $100 or some crack, so all they do is spout their liberal agenda

    Much like all the other liberal filth, it’s not going to help in Nov…. It’s only hurting their chances at retaining the Senate, in my opinion

  12. The Brady involvement in a lawsuits like this is not necessarily to win the suit. The point is to raise the question of online sales of magazines, ammo, body armor, etc. Lawsuit like this build a history raise awareness and give the liberal goofballs one more thing to list of perverse grievances. It serves the same purpose as the Fast and Furious scam. F & F in and of itself would not have eliminated the sale of modern sporting arms but it would have accelerated and fed the debate. This is very evident when Obama uses the families involved in mass shootings as props and backdrops for this aftermath speeches.

    It is a horrible thing when a mass shooting happens but we cannot allow the grief of a few people to dictate the rights of the rest of the country. Win or lose the Brady Center has done its job simple by fueling the fire. It is easy to foresee the liberals and the RINOs supporting legislation, after the November elections, to prevent online sale of large amounts of Ammo, large magazines and body armor without it touching the 2nd Amendment.

    I think everyone agree that criminals or people intent on committing a criminal act should not be allowed to acquire items that will allow them to commit such acts. Preventing criminal access through online sales without affecting law abiding Americans is a difficult task. Because of the difficulty I foresee the liberal catchphrase: “Perhaps law abiding Americans will have to give up some freedoms for the safety of everyone”. Again folks this is going to be done without touching 2A.
    My point is this. If you think suits like this mean nothing and are going nowhere, think again. Its all part of the agenda.

  13. Sadly there are a lot of frightened people being blindly led around by the nose. None of the gun control measures they’ve proposed make any sense but if we don’t see to it that the politicians who support these misguided measures are voted out of office we might as well use the constitution for toilet paper. I’m against all of it.

  14. It is no secret the Brady Center is well known for priding themselves for their focus of attacks which go after the gun industry itself, rather than the slow legislative process towards changing the laws.

    While the Brady Center attempts both methods, they find it more effective as a mission statement to harass the gun industry which in many cases caves to their demands just to make them go away. After all, companies have a business to run and it is often less costly to settle or change their internal policies just to make a lawsuit go away.

    Even more disgusting is how the Brady Center sought out this poor grieving family and goaded them into becoming the poster-family for their misguided ant-gun cause. Though they will make it sound as though this family asked for their help, I can assure you that did not happen.

    But most tragic will be that the Brady Center could care less that they are selfishly dragging out this family’s misery towards a cause that stands no chance of prevailing in court. And thusly have created a misdirected and false sense of hope towards vindication for this family as well as the other traumatized victims who should instead learn that – rather than blaming everyone but the criminal is simply unrealistic and counterproductive towards an effective and ultimate solution.

    However, there is a twist in this particular lawsuit which shows the anti-gun vultures are adapting. This time around they are going after a presumed responsibility against gun businesses for their supposed failure to pre-screen customers, rather than product liability itself. I suppose that is because the last few product liability cases failed miserably for the anti-gunners given the guns and ammunition were proven in court to actually perform quite well in doing the job they were designed and sold to do – that is to kill.

    So while that is a sick joke to the victims’ families in these lawsuits, we must blame the ignorant anti-gun organizations for their stupidity by involving these families at the expense of their family grief.

    Every single item purchased by James Holmes was done so legally. So if the anti-gun rhetoric has in-fact shifted towards a trend to now hold businesses liable for pre-screening customers prior to purchases of legal goods and services, then I leave you with this thought – a mother was recently charged with murdering her child by inducing ordinary table salt into the child’s feeding tubing over a sustained period of time.

    Will we now go after the store clerk that sold her the table salt for failing to detect and pre-screen this customer?

  15. My opinion is they can not win. But, only after a long streatch of refilings, appeals, rewriting the suit, etc., etc. The Only ones who win, and its been Proven, Is the Lawyers (SORRY!, but, OH WELL)!. We had a case here of an Old male Driver who plowed through the Farmers Market in Dwn. Twn. L. A. a few years back. He Punched the Gas instead of stepping on the Brakes; Killing Several and Seriously Injuring a number of others. Some were actually dragged under the car for a distance before he bothered to stop. He shouldn’t have been allowed a Drivers License if he had been tested @ DMV. He had a good Driving record & no test was required, otherwise. The DMV only cares they get that $6.00, or is it $8.00 now License fee, Regis. & tag fee. A moving vehical is Legally considered a Lethal Weapon just like a Fire Arm if used in a state of premeditated use or under the influence of Drugs or Alcohol. He lost his Licence and no Jail time I believe. Ins payed through the nose and the rest of us are still paying for it with our insurance. Even Physc’s and Psychol. can’t read inside the human mind. We had other cases that were in court of blaming gun Manuf’s.for Loss of Life from their products that didn’t pan water either.

  16. Shut down the US Government for negligence in supplying ISIS and MEXICAN CARTELS with weapons.
    It is exactly the same thing.
    IDIOTS!
    Yeah, with the world in crisis, these stupid liberals want to disarm American citizens. So if you do that and our country is invaded, who will protect you?

    1. Swamp Thing is in the ball park. Why hasn’t Dr. Lynne Fenton, the University of Colorado campus police, the local civil police force, the Colorado state government, all of whom allowed the accused killer to willfully make said purchases, been named along with the internet businesses? It is yet another attempt by the American judicial system to take away the rights of the law abiding citizens.

    2. They (the establishment ) are too busy pointing their fingers at their greatest fears instead of their own negligence.

    1. You must not do much shooting then. When I go to the range I can by myself go thru 500+ rounds in a day. If I take the family it will be more like 1000 rounds. So far this year I have gone thru more than 5000+ rounds, and I haven’t been to the range that often. So it’s a matter of perspective. A friend of mine shoots in a lot of competitions, to stay on the top of his game he goes thru 1000 rounds every weekend. It’s a tragedy when something like Aurora happens, but more people are killed every year by drunk drivers and we are not trying to ban cars or alcohol. I don’t see anyone proposing the death penalty for DUI deaths. The simple matter of it is guns and ammo are easy targets for the liberals who would have all of us defenseless and relying on them for our protection. As a great man once said “From my cold dead hands”.

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