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Federal Court in Illinois Throws Out Brady Campaign Supported Lawsuit

Friday, August 2, 2013

On Wednesday, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed a lawsuit supported by the Brady Campaign against the online gun classifieds website, Armslist, LLC.

Armslist is a website that provides firearm owners and prospective buyers with a venue to advertise sale or want advertisements for firearms in a manner similar to newspaper classified ads.  Armslist otherwise takes no part in any firearm transactions and has a specific disclaimer on its website that all users must agree to before using the site that all firearm sales must comply with applicable state and federal laws.  Alex Vesely, the plaintiff in the case, sued on behalf of his sister, who was killed with a firearm that had been advertised for sale on Armslist. 

The Brady Campaign, on behalf of Mr. Vesely, asked the court to abandon traditional rules of tort liability and find that Armslist could be liable for the criminal actions of the man who killed Ms. Vesely.  In essence, the Brady Campaign argued that a special rule should apply to Armslist because the advertisements on its website were for firearms, and it should therefore be treated differently than other online classifieds sites.  With help from the NRA, Armslist argued that it should not be subject to different legal rules simply because its website contains advertisements for firearms. 

The court rejected Brady's argument and applied traditional rules of tort liability to find that Armslist could not be held liable.  Specifically, it did "not accept as true Plaintiff's mere conclusion that [Armslist] encourages its users to circumvent existing gun laws by enabling prospective purchasers to search for and find sellers in any state," as interstate transactions may lawfully be conducted through federally licensed dealers.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.