Debate Magazine

Brady Campaign Vs. Armslist is About Closing the Private Sale Loophole

Posted on the 14 December 2012 by Mikeb302000
The Daily Beast
On April 13th, 2011, Jitka Vesel was walking to her car when she saw a man she knew running toward her, shooting at her with a handgun.

Vesel threw coffee at her attacker and began to run away, but he pursued her and shot her in the back and in the back of the head, killing her and leaving her corpse so disfigured that local police would not allow Vesel’s family to see her body. Vesel was killed by Demetry Smirnov, a man she had met on the Internet and who had stalked her for years after she allegedly ended their brief romantic relationship.

Smirnov bought the .40-caliber handgun he used to kill Vesel via Armslist, an online firearms marketplace that has tens of thousands of guns listed, with no fees, no auctions—and no enforced background checks for buyers.

On Wednesday, Vesel’s family and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a prominent gun-control advocacy group, filed a lawsuit (PDF) against Armslist for negligence in allowing Smirnov to purchase his weapon. The suit claims Smirnov bought the gun illegally: private sellers are restricted to selling guns in-state only; Smirnov was an immigrant from Russia living in Canada when he bought the gun.

The Brady Campaign, represented by Jonathan Lowy, director of the campaign’s Legal Action Project, says this is the first lawsuit against an online gun site for causing a shooting.

Gun control advocates say potentially taking down Armslist is a crucial piece of the complex task of narrowing what they say is a massive loophole that allows criminals to buy guns from private sellers without being background-checked.

While all licensed dealers are required to subject their sellers to a background check, the same rule does not apply to unlicensed, private dealers, many of whom use sites like Armslist, Gun Listings, and Glock Talk to sell weapons.
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