BRADY CENTER TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE ARNOLD & PORTER LLP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2014
jfuson [at] bradymail [dot] org
Brady Center Sues Online Sellers of Ammunition and Equipment Used in Aurora Movie Theater Massacre
Others Were Negligent in Supplying James Holmes
Denver, Colo. – Websites that supplied Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes with ammunition, body armor, tear gas and other equipment used in his assault were negligent, according to a lawsuit announced today by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Arnold & Porter LLP. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was shot and killed in the Aurora movie theater shooting in 2012. The suit alleges that the websites negligently supplied Holmes with the arsenal he used to kill 12 people and wound at least 58 others.
The lawsuit names Lucky Gunner (BulkAmmo.com), which allegedly sold Holmes over 4,000 rounds of ammunition; The Sportman’s Guide, which allegedly sold Holmes a 100-round drum ammunition magazine and 700 rounds; BulletProofBodyArmorHQ.com, which allegedly sold Holmes multiple pieces of body armor; and BTP Arms, which allegedly sold him two canisters of tear gas, as defendants.
“A crazed, homicidal killer should not be able to amass a military arsenal, without showing his face or answering a single question, with the simple click of a mouse,” said Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and co-counsel for Sandy and Lonnie Phillips. “If businesses choose to sell military-grade equipment online, they must screen purchasers to prevent arming people like James Holmes. Sandy and Lonnie Phillips have brought this lawsuit to make sellers of lethal arms and military equipment use reasonable care. ”
“Two years ago when our daughter Jessica was murdered, and we first heard the details of the massacre, I asked my husband: ‘How can anyone order over 4,000 rounds of ammunition without raising any red flags? Why weren’t any questions asked of the person who bought all of this ammunition?” said Sandy Phillips. “As gun owners, parents, and citizens of this country, we hope that our lawsuit will spare other families the tragedy that we have gone through after the death of our beautiful daughter.”
The complaint alleges that each of the online businesses failed to use reasonable safeguards to prevent dangerous people like James Holmes from obtaining high-capacity ammunition magazines, thousands of rounds of ammunition, body armor and tear gas used in his assault. Business practices that disregard these well-known risks and allow people like Holmes to purchase such products without any screening are unreasonably dangerous and create a public nuisance, according to the complaint.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence recently launched a national campaign against “bad apple” gun dealers, licensed gun dealers that supply the criminal gun market. The campaign commenced with a protest in Chicago, a petition, a code of conduct for responsible gun sales, and lawsuits to hold gun dealers accountable when they turn a blind eye and sell guns to criminals, and the gun traffickers and straw purchasers who supply them.
The plaintiffs are represented by Jonathan Lowy, Elizabeth Burke and Kelly Sampson of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, D.C., and Paul Rodney of Arnold & Porter LLP in Denver, Colorado. The lawsuit, which was filed in Arapahoe County District Court, seeks injunctions requiring the defendants to reform their business practices.
The mission of the Brady organization is to create a safer America for all of us that will lead to a dramatic reduction in gun deaths and injuries. For more insight on gun violence prevention, follow us on Facebook at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Twitter @BradyBuzz.