Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
For Immediate Release: June 17, 2015
Contact: Jonathan Hutson, jhutson [at] bradymail [dot] org
Alaska "Bad Apple" Gun Dealer Not Liable for Man's Death, but Can No Longer Sell Guns
Juneau, AK – After a two-week trial, a Juneau jury on June 15 found gun dealer Ray Coxe not liable for the death of 26-year-old Simone Kim, who was shot and killed in 2006 by a meth-addicted fugitive with a gun obtained from Coxe’s store. Although Coxe will not have to compensate Kim’s family for their loss, federal authorities revoked his Federal Firearms License in August 2014, and he can no longer sell guns. The jury awarded $10 million in damages for the Kims’ family against Jason Coday, the man who used the gun he obtained from Coxe to kill Simone Kim.
Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence, stated: “We are extremely disappointed that the Alaska jury in this case did not decide to hold Ray Coxe accountable for his outrageous and reckless behavior. Fortunately, though, federal authorities have decided to act and have very rightfully revoked his license to sell guns.”
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revoked Coxe’s license to sell firearms in August 2014 after compliance audits in the years following Kim’s death revealed that Coxe could not account for hundreds of guns he had acquired, in violation of federal law. Most gun dealers have no unaccounted-for guns. Evidence introduced at trial also showed that guns Coxe sold were regularly used in crimes, putting Coxe among the top one percent of gun dealers that supply guns to criminals.
“Five percent of gun dealers in America are responsible for selling 90 percent of crime guns,” Gross continued, “The goal of Brady’s national campaign to Stop Bad Apple Gun Dealers is to force those ‘bad apples’ to adopt a simple and reasonable code of conduct or to force them out of business. So, in that sense, it’s ‘mission accomplished.’ Although we believe the Kim family has not received the justice they deserve, we hope it brings them solace to know that there are families that will never know their pain because they helped to expose and ultimately shut down a very ‘bad apple.’ Let this be a warning to all the other ‘bad apples’ out there. If you are going to continue to continue your bad ways, the Brady Center is going to come after you with every means possible.”
Jonathan Lowy, Director of the Legal Action Project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, D.C. and co-counsel for the Kim family at trial, explained that while the jury’s verdict is a loss for the Kim family, but that the case serves as a clear message that a federal law providing immunity to gun dealers should be changed. “The Kim family’s case has made the people of Alaska safer by helping shut down this ‘bad apple’ gun dealer. The fact that a gun dealer who repeatedly violated federal law was given special immunity from basic negligence liability should be a wake-up call to Congress to amend the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. There is no good reason why federal law should specially protect a gun dealer who profited from and armed a meth-addicted fugitive with a gun he could not legally buy.”
Coxe claimed that a fugitive from justice walked out of his store with a gun and voluntarily left the $200 purchase price in the store. Two days later, on August 4, 2006, the fugitive, Jason Coday, used the rifle to kill Simone Kim. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act exempted gun dealers from negligence liability, a special protection that no one else in society enjoys. The trial court then held that Coxe was still immune from negligence liability despite the fact that he had since lost his federal firearms license for repeatedly violating federal firearms laws. As a result, the Kim family was required to prove at trial that Coxe illegally sold Coday the gun.
The case marks the latest offensive in the Brady Center’s campaign against “bad apple” gun dealers, the small number of gun dealers like Rayco Sales that are the source of the vast majority of guns used in crimes. “Bad apple” dealers supply guns to criminals by turning a blind eye to straw purchasing and gun trafficking taking place in their stores, disabling security systems and selling guns illegally without background checks, or engaging in other negligent or illegal activity. Brady’s lawyers are currently litigating several other cases against gun dealers across the country who allegedly supplied guns to straw purchasers, criminals and dangerous people. Learn more at www.bradycampaign.org/stopbadapples.
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 and Twitter @BradyBuzz.