Brady Center loses two more lawsuits against

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File

Yesterday, Monday, June 12, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the prior dismissal of two lawsuits filed against by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. In other words, Armslist won at the lower court and its victory was affirmed by a higher court.


The two lawsuits were Webber v. Armslist and Bauer v. Armslist, both of which have been covered here at Bearing Arms before. First, a quick recap: Webber v. Armslist was filed by the estate of Sara Schmidt, a victim of domestic violence who was murdered by her estranged husband in 2018. Bauer v. Armslist was filed by the estate of Paul Bauer, a Chicago Police Commander who was killed by a four-time convicted felon. Both perpetrators were prohibited persons who bought their guns from private sellers via ads posted on

Armslist is like Craigslist. It exists because other large market players like Craigslist, eBay, etc. do not allow listing guns. Allowing what are essentially classified ads, which are not abused by the overwhelming majority of website visitors, does not make Armslist culpable for the actions of the miniscule number of criminals who use their website.

Armslist has a massive disclaimer that notifies every visitor that they must follow all federal, state, and local laws. Beyond this, there is nothing they can do. Once a private seller and a buyer get in touch with each other, ensuring the legality of the transaction is upon them, not on Armslist.

Affirming the dismissal of the cases, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said the following:

The plaintiffs assert that the defendants designed the website to encourage and assist individuals in circumventing federal and state law regulating firearms. The defendants argue that the plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because publishing third-party offers to sell firearms does not establish tort or other liability under Wisconsin law.


The district court dismissed the negligence claim in both cases, concluding that the plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege the website’s design caused the deaths. The remaining claims were also dismissed, and in Bauer, Gibbon was dismissed from the lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction.


The defendants ask us to affirm the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims, either on the merits under Wisconsin law or as preempted by the Communications Decency Act (CDA), 47 U.S.C. § 230. The CDA precludes a website from being “treated” as the “publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” § 230(c)(1). We agree with the defendants that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over Gibbon. We also affirm the district court’s dismissal of the plaintiffs’ negligence and other state law claims against Armslist LLC. Because we affirm on the state law claims, we decline to rule on the preemption issue.


The ruling was entirely within the bounds of Wisconsin State Law and the federal Communications Decency Act was not even touched upon. (For an excellent write-up of why Section 230 is fundamental to the Internet in relation to the Second Amendment, read Tom Knighton’s article here.)

The Firearms Policy Coalition noted this blurb in the ruling about the attempted blame-shifting:

This outcome was expected by anyone with half a brain, including most of us who are not lawyers. The lawyers at the gun control group Brady Center know it too, but they don’t care. Pursuing their strategy of killing the Second Amendment slowly by a thousand cuts, they egged on the grieving survivors of the victims in both cases to file their lawsuits. They even brag about it on their website.

This is not Brady’s first wretched rodeo. They have done this before and lost in Daniel v. Armslist and Stokinger v. Armslist, and yet filed suits again. In a lawsuit against Lucky Gunner filed in Colorado, Brady provided “pro bono” services to the grieving family, lost the lawsuit, and left them in the lurch with a $203,000 fees.


That’s because they don’t care. They are well-funded and on a mission to wreck our freedom under the guise of preserving our freedom. In the case of the Lucky Gunner lawsuit, Brady’s strategy of turning the grieving parents into sympathetic figures worked as Colorado changed its laws on reimbursing fees and costs to the prevailing party. It is unclear to me whether Armslist will be reimbursed its legal costs related to defending these latest lawsuits.

The Second Amendment fight is really a David vs. Goliath one. On the one hand are the masses who just want to be left alone, and on the other hand are deep-pocketed organizations funded by billionaires like Michael “Mini Mike” Bloomberg and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer. 

It is exasperating to see these repeated attacks. Fending them off will require a personal lifelong commitment to activism and civic engagement by all of us, which stories like these hopefully motivate us to do.

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