Wisconsin Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Armslist

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File

Armslist is a website for people buying and selling firearms. All parties are required to follow all applicable federal, state, and local laws, they just facilitate the meeting. It’s not any different than someone who knows a person selling a gun and another person interested in buying said gun and simply arranging a meeting.

Yet the site has been the target of moral outrage for years. How dare anyone try to sell a legal product using the internet to facilitate gun sales. That should be reserved for adult films, drug paraphernalia, and things like that!

Anyway, it seems Armslist gets targeted for lawsuits whenever anyone gets the chance. I suspect the job with the most security is to be the website’s attorney. You’re always going to have work.

Luckily, at least some judges recognize the stupidity of those lawsuits.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against an online firearms marketplace by the father of a woman fatally shot by her estranged husband in Harrison in 2018.

Robert Schmidt wasn’t allowed to have a gun due to an ongoing domestic violence case — also involving Sara Schmidt. Robert Schmidt used Armslist to connect with a 19-year-old private seller and bought a handgun for $550 in a Walmart parking lot a day before he fatally shot his wife. While federal law requires background checks for sales by licensed gun sellers, no such requirement exists for private sales.

In a decision filed Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Griesbach dismissed Webber’s lawsuit against Armslist, concluding Robert Schmidt’s actions “constituted a superseding cause, alleviating” Armslist of liability for Sara Schmidt’s death.

“There is no reason to believe that even if Schmidt’s estranged husband had not purchased a gun from a person who posted an advertisement on the Armslist website, Schmidt would still be alive,” Griesbach’s decision says. “Armslist is hardly the only source of guns in this country, and one does not need a gun to take another person’s life.

“Schmidt was killed by a person so determined to take her life, so consumed by hatred, that he was even willing to take his own. The likelihood that such a person would have found another source from which to obtain a firearm or another way to take Schmidt’s life is more plausible than plaintiff’s claim that she would still be alive.”

Judge Griesbach ain’t wrong, folks.

Schmidt was a broken person, apparently, and had he not obtained a firearm through Armslist, he likely would have purchased a firearm from somewhere else. Face-to-face transfers are perfectly legal where this happened, after all, so he probably could have found another way to get a firearm.

Plus, even if he hadn’t been barred from owning a gun, there’s no guarantee that Sarah Schmidt would still be alive. As the judge said, there are other ways to take a human life.

I get her family being upset and wanting someone to pay. Schmidt took his own life, so there’s no way he can be punished. The kid who sold him the gun didn’t do anything illegal, so the family turns to Armslist.

The problem is, Armslist didn’t do anything illegal either. It basically just connected a buyer and a seller. It has absolutely no way of knowing a potential buyer is ineligible to buy a firearm, even if it had an obligation to find out.

Luckily, the judge understood the reality and ruled accordingly.

Unfortunately, this also won’t be the last lawsuit Armslist has to deal with. There will always be someone with an ax to grind and a lack of any other convenient targets, so there will be more lawsuits to come. That’s a shame, too, because they don’t actually do anything except waste money for all parties.