Desperate For Relevance, Brady Campaign Exploits Family Of Aurora Theater Shooting Victim

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, also known as the Brady Campaign, has been struggling for relevance in recent years. Long ago supplanted as the “go to” gun control group for media sound bites by Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) and then Moms Demand Action, Brady seems intent on clawing its way back onto the front page with a grandstanding lawsuit against Tennessee-based online ammunition retailer Lucky Gunner.

Brady wants to hold the Internet-based retailer partially responsible for the Aurora Colorado theater shooting, suggesting that they somehow should have been able to screen the shooter, even though there are no mechanisms or federal laws that would allow such an act to take place either online or for in-person sales.

A victim’s parents and a national gun control group plan to sue an online retailer who sold J____ H_____* ammunition and body armor used during the July 2012 Aurora theater shooting, the group announced Monday.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said they, along with Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was killed in the theater, will sue Lucky Gunner, which operates

In court, prosecutors said H_____ bought ammunition and body armor from various online retailers, including On the night of the shooting, H_____’ arsenal included an AR-15 assault rifle, two .40-caliber pistols, a shotgun, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. He was also wearing body armor from head to toe.

According to the Brady Campaign, the lawsuit, which is expected to be filed in Arapahoe County District Court in the coming days, alleges that the websites “negligently supplied Holmes with the arsenal” and failed “to use any screening mechanism to determine his identity or intent for the products.”

This lawsuit is the first in the nation against online sellers of ammunition and military equipment, according to the Brady group, and it is part of a national effort against “Bad Apple” gun dealers that aims to reform the business practices of gun dealers that irresponsibly sell guns. Nationally, just 5 percent of gun dealers account for nearly all of the guns used in crimes, according to the group.

We feel great deal of sympathy for Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, the parents of Jessica Ghawi. It has to be horrible to lose a child. It leaves you fragile, vulnerable, and filled with anguish.

Unfortunately, Brady seem to be exploiting the grief of the Phillips family to file a nuisance lawsuit against a legitimate business that has neither committed any crimes, nor acted unethically.

Like millions of other Americans do every month, J____ H_____* purchased legal products from an online vendor. In this instance, it is alleged that he purchased ammunition from, one of the ammunition web sites owned by Lucky Gunner.

Many, if not most shooters in this digital age purchase bulk or specialty ammunition online, which they sometimes cannot obtain from their local gun stores due to limited supply of specific cartridges.

Brady contends that Lucky Gunner was “negligent” and failed to use any screening mechanism” to determine his identity or intent.”

This is an entirely baseless lawsuit.

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It is not the responsibility of retailers to screen customers for “intent,” nor is it remotely feasible for them to do so. There are neither federal laws nor mechanisms to facilitate such scrutiny, and a demand for such behavior is positively Orwellian. Should you be forced to undergo a background check to buy bleach, or undergo a psychological profile before buying ant traps?

Brady sure seems to think so.

The FBI’s NCIS background system is designed for firearms retailers only. There is no federal background check system that Lucky Gunner could have used to screen the individual charged with the theater murders, and perhaps just as relevantly, there would have been nothing in his profile that would have flagged a sale prior to the attack even if such a mechanism existed. Like the Virginia Tech and Navy Yard shooters, the Aurora theater shooter passed all background checks for his firearms.

Sadly, Brady seems to be exploiting the grieving parents of a mass murder victim in an attempt to bully a lawful retailer for failing to use a screening mechanism that doesn’t even exist.

The sloppiness of the Brady effort—never intended to succeed, and presumably only intended to grab headlines—is further revealed in the absurd claim that the shooter wore “head to toe body armor,” a claim that was debunked within the first days after the event. The shooter did not wear body armor, and only wore a nylon vest that held his spare ammunition.

Brady has a history of filing suits for headlines and then dropping the case once their falsehoods are exposed. I’ve seen it before, and I’ve had family members abused by the Brady Center tell me that they’ve apologized to Brady’s other “lawfare” victims.

I feel great sorrow for Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, the parents of Jessica Ghawi. They were victimized once by a mentally deranged young man who ripped their daughter out of their lives.

Now it appears that Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence intends to exploit their grief a second time, and for their own nefarious political means.


* Bearing Arms does not publish the names of mass shooters.