Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas is teaming up with Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown Law (part of his Everytown for Gun Safety network) to sue four firearms manufacturers and distributors, alleging that the companies engaged in a conspiracy to traffic firearms in the city. It marks the first municipal lawsuit against a firearms manufacturer in at least a decade, and is another clear bit of evidence that Bloomberg isn’t just spending his money backing anti-gun candidates. He’s created a high-powered law firm exclusively to help advance his gun control agenda.
The lawsuit revolves around the case of a man named James Samuels, a former firefighter who is accused of illegally trafficking dozens of firearms over a period of five years.
According an affidavit… Samuels purchased a total of 77 firearms, including 57 pistols. Of those firearms, Samuels allegedly sold 47, including six that have been involved in other crimes.
Samuels’ alleged actions are illegal because he does not have a federal license to legally sell firearms.
According to the affidavit, there were eight specific transactions where Samuels sold firearms to straw buyers, including on April 7, 2016. He sold multiple firearms to a straw buyer that day, including one pistol that was later used in the July 5, 2016 murder of Alvino D. Crawford.
The lawsuit filed by Kansas City alleges that Jimenez Arms and three gun stores engaged in “negligent entrustment,” meaning they should have known that the firearms purchased by Samuels were being trafficked. From KCUR:
Between 2013 and his arrest in November 2018, Samuels trafficked “at least 77 guns into the Kansas City area,” said Alla Lefkowitz, an Everytown attorney who is assisting Kansas City on the lawsuit.
Many of those guns were purchased either directly from Jimenez or at wholesale prices though local dealers, she said.
“In two cases, Jimenez arms even shipped firearms directly to Mr. Samuels’ home without a background check,” Lefkowitz said.
When Jimenez stopped selling guns directly to Samuels, the local dealers acted as a “glorified dropbox” for guns sold to Samuels that later ended up in criminal hands, the lawsuit alleges…
In addition to negligent entrustment, the lawsuit alleges Jimenez and other defendants created a “public nuisance” by fostering an illegal market for firearms that caused the city and its residents “harm and substantial costs.”
The city seeks damages, legal fees and court oversight of Jimenez Firearms and the gun dealers.
The suit claims that Jimenez Arms broke numerous federal gun laws in shipping firearms directly to Samuels without a background check. That’s the most damning indictment in the case, but it is also only one side of the story. At least one of the gun store owners named in the lawsuit told KCUR that every sale was “100% legal,” and the case the city makes against the firearm retailers is pretty weak.
For instance, the city says that over a two year period, one gun shop transferred 17 guns to Samuels and 5 of his associates. I don’t think it would be unusual for 6 people to purchase 17 guns over the course of two years. Another gun store is alleged to have sold 14 firearms to Samuels and 5 others during 2015-2016, while the third gun shop is alleged to have transferred 16 guns to Samuels and 4 others in 2017.
If companies broke the law and facilitated firearms entering the black market then there should be consequences. However, I’m not content to simply take the word of Everytown Law and the mayor of Kansas City. I’ll keep an open mind and hear what the defendants have to say. When they respond, I’ll be sure to provide an update.