If you sell a car to someone who then uses it to commit a crime, are you somehow responsible? The answer is no, of course–not if you had no reason to believe he intended to use the car for something illegal, and honestly, who would?
Why are guns treated any differently?
Every time there’s a mass shooting, someone wants to sue the gun manufacturer, as if it’s their fault the guy who bought their product turned out to be a psycho.
However, it also happens on a smaller scale, such as this now reinstated lawsuit in Wisconsin.
The state Court of Appeals on Thursday reinstated a lawsuit against the online firearms brokerage where a man obtained the gun used to kill three people and himself at a Brookfield spa in 2012.
It is the first court in the nation to hold that a web-based gun marketplace might be held liable for negligence in facilitating an unlawful weapons sale.
“There are far too many bad actors out there, particularly unlicensed online gun sellers, who are putting profits ahead of safety. This court decision puts sites like Armslist on notice that they can and will be held accountable,” said Kris Brown, co-president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which is part of the plaintiff’s legal team.
For the record, these are either face-to-face transfers from one private individual to another private individual–thus not an actual gun dealer–or they’re someone who routes sales through a licensed FFL.
What Brown is trying to do here is present it like the internet is the Wild West for gun sales, that you can buy whatever you want and it’ll come right to your door or something. It’s not like that.
What happens with transfers like the one alleged to have occurred is no different than advertising in the classifieds. You put up that you have a gun for sale and someone else says they have money and want the gun. Boom.
Let’s not pretend there are a bunch of people out there playing Lord of War or something.
Zina Daniel Haughton and two others were killed when her estranged husband, Radcliffe Haughton, shot up the Azana Spa where she worked. Four others were injured, and Radcliffe Haughton fatally shot himself. Zina Haughton’s coworkers, Cary Robuck and Maelyn Lind, were killed.
Yasmeen Daniel, personally and as administrator of her mother’s estate, sued Armslist.com, on which Radcliffe Haughton found someone to sell him a gun and ammunition while he was prohibited by a domestic violence injunction from having firearms.
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Glenn Yamahiro had dismissed the suit in 2016, citing the immunity granted to “interactive computer services” under the federal Communications Decency Act. He found that Armslist only displays content created by third parties and couldn’t be liable for being just the publisher of others’ content on its site.
Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals felt differently.
However, there’s absolutely no evidence that Armslist actually did anything wrong. They simply provided a site where people could engage in lawful trade. If someone misrepresented himself as a lawful purchaser to a private individual who wasn’t required to perform a background check, why are they responsible?
The paper notes that sites like Craigslist and eBay won’t allow guns to be listed, which is true. That’s why sites like Armslist were created in the first place, to give people a chance to find buyers for firearms they wanted to sell and vice versa.
To blame them for this horrible crime is ridiculous. Hopefully, the courts will finally put this to rest.