April 12th, 2015

Federal Court Dismisses Aurora Case Against Ammo Sellers

In a major victory for firearms and ammunition retailers, a Federal District Court in Colorado has thrown out a Brady Center-backed lawsuit arising out of the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting. The Federal Court ruled that: “The federal and state immunity statutes prohibit the claims of liability for the sales of ammunition in this case.” If you are involved in sales of guns or ammunition, whether as a distributor or retailer, we strongly recommend you read the entire U.S. District Court decision by Richard P. Matsch, Senior District Judge. The Judge’s memorandum cites many important principles of law. CLICK HERE for Dismissal Order.

U.S. District Court Aurora Colorado Shooting NSSF Gun Ammunition Lucky Gunner Sportsman Guide lawsuit

The case, Phillips v. Lucky Gunner, was brought by the parents of an Aurora shooting victim against several web-based businesses from whom the shooter, James Holmes, purchased materials. The plaintiffs sued two web-based ammo vendors, Lucky Gunner LLC and The Sportsman’s Guide, as well as suppliers of various tactical gear.

Brady Center lawyers representing the family members alleged that the Internet business practices of the FFLs did not include “reasonable safeguards” to prevent persons such as Holmes from purchasing their respective products.

The court found that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) as well as a Colorado preemption statute required dismissal of the Brady Center’s lawsuit. In dismissing this action, the court followed legal precedents that have consistently found the PLCAA to be constitutional.

Highlights of Court Decision:

The ammunition sellers are also protected by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, 15 U.S.C. § 7901 et seq. (“PLCAA”). Enacted in 2005, the PLCAA generally prohibits claims against firearms and ammunition manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers for damages and injunctive relief arising from the criminal or unlawful misuse of firearms and ammunition, unless the suit falls within one of six enumerated exceptions. 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901–7903.

The Colorado legislature specifically limited suits against ammunition sellers to those where the plaintiff requests “damages” for relief, except in a product liability action which includes “any remedy.” Section 13-21-504.5(1). Subsection (2) precludes liability of the ammunition sellers for the actions of Holmes in any type of action. The plaintiffs’ claims of negligence, negligent entrustment and public nuisance based on the sales of ammunition to Holmes are barred and “shall” be dismissed. C.R.S. § 13-21-504.5(3).

Story based on report by NSSF.org.
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January 9th, 2014

Federal Judge Strikes Down Chicago Ban on Firearms Sales

Chicago second amendment sales gunEarlier this week, the U.S. District Court in Illinois declared the City of Chicago’s ban on the sale of firearms to be “unconstitutional under the Second Amendment”. The ruling was issued in a court case filed by Illinois firearms dealers and gun owners, challenging Chicago ordinances that ban virtually all sales and transfers of firearms inside Chicago city limits.

U.S. District Court Judge Edmond Chang held that the Second Amendment includes “the right to acquire a firearm, although that acquisition right is far from absolute[.] But Chicago’s ordinance goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms[.]”

Click this link to read full decision of U.S. District Court (Northern District of Illinois):
Illinois Assn. of Firearms Retailers et al vs. City of Chicago, et al. (Memorandum Opinion and Order)

[Chicago] Municipal Code § 8-20-100 and the City’s zoning ordinance (MCC § 17-16-0201), which ban gun sales and transfers other than inheritance, are declared unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The Court will enter judgment for Plaintiffs [Illinois Assn. of Firearms Retailers]. — Order by U.S. District Judge Hon. Edmond E. Chang.

Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel commented: “This is an important decision because the Court recognized that the lawful commerce in firearms, in which NSSF members are engaged, is protected by the Second Amendment.”

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June 3rd, 2013

Federal Court Dismisses Lawsuit to Ban Traditional Ammunition

ammo ban lawsuit federal courtIn late May, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit filed by the radical anti-hunting Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and six other groups demanding that the EPA ban traditional ammunition containing lead components. NSSF filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit last August. The court agreed with NSSF that EPA does not have the authority to regulate traditional ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act. EPA had already twice denied attempts by CBD to have the agency ban traditional ammunition, and the court had dismissed an earlier case brought by CBD seeking the same relief.

Traditional ammunition (with lead elements) represents 95 percent of the U.S. market and is the staple ammunition for target shooters, hunters and law enforcement, with more than 10 billion rounds sold annually.

“We are gratified that the court has found this second frivolous lawsuit, which is essentially the same as the one dismissed last year, was equally without merit,” said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry. In addition to NSSF, the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International intervened in the case.

“No sound science [shows that] the use of traditional ammunition has harmed wildlife populations or that it presents a health risk to humans who consume game taken with such ammunition,” said Keane. “Banning traditional ammunition would cost tens of thousands of jobs in America and destroy wildlife conservation that is funded in part by an 11 percent excise tax on the sale of ammunition. The protection and management of wildlife is properly handled by the professional biologists in the state fish and game agencies, as it has been for over a hundred years.”

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August 3rd, 2011

NSSF Sues to Block ATF Multiple Sales Reporting Requirements

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) today filed a lawsuit challenging the legal authority of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) under the Gun Control Act to compel 8,500 federally licensed firearms retailers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas to report the sale of two or more rifles.

The ATF has issued new requirements, effective August 14, which would compel firearm retailers in these four states to report multiple sales of any semi-automatic rifle larger than .22 caliber and capable of accepting a detachable magazine that are purchased following an FBI background check by the same individual within five consecutive business days.

NSSF’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks an injunction to block ATF from implementing the reporting requirement. ATF has sent “demand letters” to firearms retailers in the four states to inform retailers they must begin reporting such sales by August 14.

CLICK HERE to Read the NSSF Complaint in Federal Court (NSSF v. Nelson)

NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane pointed out that if ATF can require this record-keeping and reporting requirements in these four states simply by sending a letter demanding the information, then there is no record or report ATF cannot require of any licensee, anywhere in the country, for as long as ATF wants. “This is the proverbial ‘slippery slope,’ and our industry is extremely concerned about it,” said Keane.

Keane added, “At the time Congress authorized the reporting of multiple sales of handguns, it could have required it for the sale of long guns, but it did not. Acting ATF Director Ken Melson himself has questioned ATF’s legal authority to impose this new requirement.”

Even if ATF had the legal authority to require multiple sales reporting for long guns, NSSF believes the policy would still be unwise. The NSSF suggest that illegal firearms traffickers will simply alter their schemes to avoid and evade the reporting requirement, making it more difficult for retailers to identify and report suspicious activity. For example, traffickers could simply move their illegal trafficking activities to other states where the reporting requirement does not exist.

NRA Also Files Suits Challenging ATF’s Multiple Sale Policy
Also today, the National Rifle Association filed a separate lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging ATF’s requirement for reporting multiple sales of rifles.

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