Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
For Immediate Release: March 18, 2016
Contact: Brendan Kelly, bkelly [at] bradymail [dot] org
INDIANA COURT DEALS HISTORIC BLOW TO GUN LOBBY, ACCEPTS BRADY CENTER ARGUMENTS ON GUN DEALER LIABILITY
Indiana Court of Appeals sides with Brady, rules gun violence victim can seek justice from gun dealer
Indianapolis, IN –The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Indianapolis Police Officer and gun violence victim Dwayne Runnels’ should get his day in court to seek justice from KS&E Sports, an area firearms dealer. The Court agreed with arguments made in December 2015 by Jonathan Lowy, the Director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Legal Action Project. Runnels sued KS&E, asserting that it knowingly or irresponsibly transferred a handgun through a straw purchase to convicted felon Demetrius Martin, who used it two months later to shoot Officer Runnels.
The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected KS&E’s arguments that an Indiana law gave it and other gun dealers broad immunity from liability for criminal shootings that result from negligent or unlawful gun sales. The 2-1 vote allows the case to move to pre-trial discovery.
Dan Gross, President of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, celebrated the important victory saying, “This is a huge win that will no doubt send shock waves through the legal community. With this victory, Brady’s Legal Action Project team made it perfectly clear that anyone made the victim of the gun industry’s negligence is owed their day in court and has a right to seek justice. Officer Runnels has put his life on the line defending that justice and he deserves nothing less.”
Jonathan Lowy, Director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Legal Action Project, who argued the case before the Court of Appeals, stated: “We are pleased that the Court recognized that victims of gun violence in Indiana are entitled to the same civil rights and access to the courts as all other Americans enjoy. Officer Dwayne Runnels is a true hero, who took a bullet to protect his community, and continues to protect people by fighting in the courts for justice and accountability. He deserves his day in court.”
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) show that between 1996 and 2000, KS&E ranked 34th in the nation in sales of crime guns, selling at least 529 guns traced to crime in that period. While the vast majority of licensed gun dealers operate on the up and up, as few as 5 percent of dealers sell 90 percent of the crime guns recovered on America’s streets.
As Director of Brady’s Legal Action Project, Mr. Lowy has won appeals on behalf of victims of gun violence around the country, including in Alaska, California, Kansas, and New York. Also representing Officer Runnels are: Michael Schissel and Aarash Haghighat of Arnold & Porter and Roger Pardieck and Karen Davis of The Pardieck Law Firm in Seymour, IN.
For more than two decades, The Legal Action Project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has worked through the courts to reform dangerous and reckless gun industry practices that give criminals access to guns. For more information about the Brady Center and its Legal Action Project, visit http://bradycenter.org/legalaction.
The mission of the Brady organization and its Million Mom March is to create a safer America by cutting gun deaths in half by 2025. For more insight on gun violence prevention, follow us on Facebook and Twitter @BradyBuzz.
About Us: The Brady Campaign and Center, united with the Million Mom March, is a national network of over 90 grassroots chapter affiliates mobilized to prevent gun violence at the community level. The network has played a vital role in expanding Brady background checks in the six states that have passed legislation since the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and produced the largest national protest of gun violence in U.S. history - The Million Mom March, Mother’s Day 2000.