As Nafis Jefferson rode his bike home in his Philadelphia neighborhood on April 19, 1999, he was shot and killed by another child playing with a .44 caliber Rossi revolver. On April 18, 2001, the Brady Center filed suit on behalf of Nafis’ mother, Tennille Jefferson, against the gun’s manufacturer, distributor, and dealer, alleging that the shooting occurred because the gun was negligently sold by an irresponsible gun dealer to an illegal drug user and gun trafficker.
The Rossi handgun used to kill Nafis was one of at least ten that were straw purchased by trafficker Perry Bruce at Sauers Trading in Williamsport, PA. Each time Bruce purchased a gun, he was under the influence of drugs, and listed on his purchase form that he was unemployed. According to his deposition testimony, Sauers’ owner never asked Bruce why he was buying so many guns, because it was “none of my business.”
After three years of litigation in which Sauers’ multiple attempts to dismiss the case were rejected by the court, Sauers agreed to a confidential monetary settlement with Tennille Jefferson on August 20, 2004. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported a settlement amount of $850,000. With this case, the Legal Action Project made illegal gun sales Sauers’ business, and put dealers everywhere on notice that selling guns to criminals has consequences. Attorney Mark LeWinter, then of Anapol, Schwartz, Weiss, Cohan, Feldman and Smalley P.C., was co-counsel with the Brady Center for Tennille Jefferson.