Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Aurora Shooting Victim's Parents Sue On-Line Gun and Ammo Sellers

120720-Jessica_Ghawi.jpgJessica Ghawi was among 12 people killed and 70 wounded in a 2012 shooting at an Aurora, Colo. movie theater.


The parents of a woman killed in the Colorado theater shootings filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing four online retailers of improperly selling ammunition, tear gas, a high-capacity magazine and body armor used in the attack.  

The lawsuit alleges it was illegal and negligent to sell the gear to James Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 20, 2012, attack. 

It says the companies had no safeguards to keep dangerous people from buying their goods.
"It was highly foreseeable to (the) defendants that their potential customers included persons with criminal intent, including persons such as James Holmes," the lawsuit says. 

The suit was filed by Sandy and Lonnie Phillips of San Antonio, whose daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was among the dead. 

The parents are represented by attorneys for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and two Denver lawyers. 

Named as defendants in the case are Lucky Gunner of Knoxville, Tennessee, Bullet Proof Body Armor of Tempe, Arizona, BTP Arms of New Oxford, Pennsylvania, and the Sportsman's Guide of South St. Paul, Minnesota. None of the companies immediately returned telephone messages seeking comment. 

The lawsuit says Holmes bought at least 4,300 rounds of ammunition from Lucky Gunner's website,, and 700 rounds of ammunition and a 100-round magazine from the Sportsman's Guide website. 

It says Holmes bought two tear gas grenades from BTP Arms and four pieces of body armor from


  1. Yes, the lawsuits hats started. The theatre is being sued, even the shrink who was treating Holmes is being sued. And now we have lawsuits against businesses for selling what I'm going to assume is completely legal because in the two years since the shooting, the only charges I've seen are ones against the person who is accused of actually accused of the committing the act.
    This is going to be a tough one for the lawyers since the products are legal. Lets start with the ammo. I'm not seeing how the amount of ammo you buy means squat except you can afford to save money by buying in bulk. Sort of like Sam's Club and Costco. And apparently they want to set the bar lower than 700 rounds to suggest criminal activity.
    Its also sort of ironic that one company is being sued for the sale of a product (100 rd mag) who's unreliability resulted in less real damage. Yes, those magazines are notorious for failing to feed properly.
    Of course, these suits are mainly a political statement and a form of economic warfare.

    1. I'd also like to see the evidence.
      Is every lawsuit economic warfare?
      The parents of a dead child are seeking those responsible, they may be wrong, but I think it's wrong to say they are politically motivated, especially without evidence.

    2. "The parents of a dead child are seeking those responsible, they may be wrong, but I think it's wrong to say they are politically motivated, especially without evidence. "

      "The parents are represented by attorneys for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and two Denver lawyers."

      Or we could just get the confirmation straight from the horse's mouth so to speak,

      "Brady Center Sues Online Sellers of Ammunition and Equipment Used in Aurora Movie Theater Massacre"

    3. I don't remember how many rounds were fired before the 100-round mag jammed? Does anyone know?

    4. I don't think that information was revealed before the records were sealed. I've been wondering myself, and waiting for the trial so that we may find out. I would not be surprised if it jammed early and most of the casualties were caused by the shotgun rather than the assault weapon--buckshot spreads quickly, so if he shot into the middle of the theater, he could have injured or killed several people at a time with each shot.

      As for the magazine, I've never bothered trying one out because everyone I know who has had said that the vast majority of them are crap, and I'd rather spend the money on ammo or good Scotch.

      As for the political motivation, I'd say the Brady's involvement is evidence that at least the attorneys have an agenda. We'll see how far they get, but I would guess they'll lose--the companies sold legal, unrestricted products as they do every day, so I'm not seeing how they can establish the duty of care here, much less the subsequent elements they'll need to prove. Brady lawyers likely know this, but know that they can use the loss to try to lobby for ammo controls and background checks.

      Something for those who think ammo background checks are the way to go, remember, if you do get such a law passed, that will provide an even larger incentive for people to shop from lucky gunner and others like them--after all, if you're going to have to pay ten dollars for a NICS check, why do that to buy a $20 box of 9mm ammo to practice with at the range--it'll make more sense to just buy a case and shoot it up over the course of a year or two. In fact, it'll result in more ammo being sold by the case as deer hunters who buy a box a year of .30-30, .35, etc. just to ensure their guns are still sighted in and then to hunt with suddenly decide it's worth it to buy in bulk for several seasons.

    5. Depending on when the article was written, numbers vary. I even saw one photo showing an exterior view of the theatre and an AR with a standard magazine in it, suggesting that Holmes might have brought some of those too. The article with the photo was doing the "where did the drum magazine go" thing.
      The most reliable source IMHO I could find said this,

      "He also fired a Smith & Wesson M&P15[13] semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, which malfunctioned after reportedly firing about 45 rounds."

      The cites with links doesn't mention the number, so I can only presume the number comes from the third cite. Considering the reputation of the magazine for being unreliable, its surprising that Holmes would have bought it since he had supposedly planned the attack in great detail to include the large number of explosive devices he set in his apartment.

    6. No surprise since lawyers are financially out of reach for most people. Lawyers advocate for single issue lawsuits commonly. So there is no case except a political motivation? This is just one reason you are a knee jerk gun loon.

    7. So, if the drum magazine jammed sometime after the 15th round, it would have indeed been more lethal than a standard mag. But even if it didn't last for more than 15, it's still a fucking death machine that has the potential to fire more rounds fast than is EVER EVER necessary this side of war.

      The pro-gun fanatics are like adolescent boys who hate being told what they cannot do. Loughner and Lanza and probably Holmes killed more people than they would have simply because of these cute accessories. They should be banned with no grandfathering. Get caught with one, go to jail and lose your gun rights.

    8. So, if the drum magazine jammed sometime after the 15th round, it would have indeed been more lethal than a standard mag.

      Um . . . Mikeb? A "standard" AR-15 magazine has a 30-round capacity. I hear good things about the SureFire 60 and 100 rounders, though.

      I don't currently own any AR-15s chambered in .223 Remington/5.56x45mm NATO (my three are in 6.5mm Grendel, .50 Beowulf, and .50 BMG), but I really like what I'm reading about the Tavor. Might have to save up for one, and some of the SureFire mags.

      I'm not sure the SAW-MAG would be much more reliable than Holmes' drum mag, and $419 is an awful lot of money for one mag, but I have to admit that the anguished bleating of the forcible citizen disarmament fanatics, at the idea of private citizens with 150-round mags, is enormously appealing.

      . . . fire more rounds fast than is EVER EVER necessary this side of war.

      Say . . . speaking of firing fast, isn't this an intriguing idea? I wonder how well it would work in conjunction with a bump-fire stock. Perhaps my well regulated militia of one will test that idea out one day.

  2. According to David Hardy, this ludicrous witch hunt is very unlikely to go anywhere:

    I cannot figure this one out. First, the tort law is pretty clear that (with very narrow exceptions) a person does not have a duty to prevent someone else from committing a crime that harms someone else. Second, how can an ammunition dealer, of all people, be expected to know that a buyer whom he has never met plans on using the ammo in a crime? In other words, even if there was a legal duty, where is the negligence? Third, unless the killer bought all his ammo from that one dealer, how can the dealer be shown to have any involvement?

    And to top it off... the murders were committed on July 20, 2012. From what I can see, Colorado has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury. So the statute ran nearly two months ago. Oops. Now, Brady could contend that it's suing for a minor, and the statute of limitations doesn't begin to run until a minor's 18th birthday. BUT the minor died, and the article says the suit is actually brought on behalf of her parents (wrongful death statutes differ somewhat in this respect, in some the suit is brought on behalf of the decedent's estate, in some it's brought by the survivors in their own right).

    It does sound like a civil action that is a sure loser, brought in hopes of gaining publicity. That of course runs a big risk of getting hit with sanctions.

    I can't wait to see these reeking opportunists laughed out of court, and smacked with an economically crippling counter-suit.

    1. Wonderful, spectacular news! These opportunistic, money-grubbing vultures trying to sue Lucky Gunner got smacked upside the head in court.

      And it gets even better:

      Adding to the sting of losing the case, the Court also held that “defendants Lucky Gunner and the Sportsman’s Guide are entitled to an award of reasonable attorney fees and costs.”

      That's not surprising, really--this idiotic case was doomed from the beginning. This is the surprising part:

      Notably, the U.S. Department of Justice intervened in support of the constitutionality of the PLCAA:

      "The United States of America intervenes in this case for the limited purpose of defending the constitutionality of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901- 7903 (the “Protection Act” or “Act”), which plaintiffs challenge in their Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (“Pl. Opp.”) (ECF No. 27). The Protection Act stands on firm constitutional footing. Virtually identical arguments to those advanced by plaintiffs here have already been rejected by courts in previous Protection Act litigation. See, e.g., Ileto v. Glock, 565 F.3d 1126, 1138-42 (9th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 130 S. Ct. 3320 (2010); City of New York v. Beretta, 524 F.3d 384, 392-98 (2d Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 129 S. Ct. 1579 (2009); Estate of Charlot v. Bushmaster Firearms, Inc., 628 F. Supp. 2d 174, 182-86 (D.D.C. 2009); Estate of Kim v. Coxe, 295 P.3d 380, 388-92 (Alaska 2013); Adames v. Sheahan, 909 N.E.2d 742, 764-65 (Ill.), cert. denied, 130 S. Ct. 1014 (2009); District of Columbia v. Beretta, 940 A.2d 163, 172-82 (D.C. 2008), cert. denied, 129 S. Ct. 1579 (2009)."

      The Obama administration did the right, pro-freedom thing here. I'm generally not shy with my criticism of this administration, but this time, I don't mind commending them for taking the moral high ground.

      I wonder if this will provoke some "Obama hate" from the gun ban zealots.

      Good triumphed over evil here, folks.

  3. Wow--this just keeps getting better and better. These predatory thugs have now been ordered to pay the intended victims of their courtroom brutality over $200,000 for attorney fees.

    Stretching my smile even wider, the judge gave these vultures an earful:

    It is apparent that this case was filed to pursue the political purposes of the Brady Center and, give the failure to present any cognizable legal claim, bringing these defendants into the Colorado court where the prosecution of James Holmes was proceeding appears to be more of an opportunity to propagandize the public and stigmatize the defendants than to obtain a court order which counsel should have known would be outside the authority of this court.

    I hope those costs drive them to penury and life-long misery.

    Oh--did I mention that Lucky Gunner--the online ammo sales company named in the suit, has announced that it will donate the entire $111,971.10 of its share of the legal fee compensation to a gun rights group?