Parents of girl shot in Aurora theater massacre sue online firearms store: ‘We’re coming after you’

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AURORA | The parents of a woman killed in the Colorado theater shootings made good on a promise earlier this week and filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing four online retailers of improperly selling ammunition, tear gas, a high-capacity magazine and body armor used in the attack.

The San Antonio couple, Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the July 20, 2012 theater massacre, has joined forces with Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in a claim that online retailers have some liability in the shooting because they sold weapons and ammunition to admitted shooter James Holmes

The lawsuit states that four online firearms companies had no safeguards to keep dangerous people from buying their goods.

“It was highly foreseeable to (the) defendants that their potential customers included persons with criminal intent, including persons such as James Holmes,” the lawsuit says.

“We’re putting them on notice,” Lonnie Phillips said at a news conference in Denver. “We’re coming after you.”

Holmes is accused of killing 12 and wounding dozens more in the July 20, 2012, rampage. He is scheduled to go on trial in December and prosecutors are seeking thew death penalty. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Named as defendants in the case are Lucky Gunner of Knoxville, Tennessee, Bullet Proof Body Armor of Tempe, Arizona, BTP Arms of New Oxford, Pennsylvania, and the Sportsman’s Guide of South St. Paul, Minnesota. None of the companies immediately returned telephone messages seeking comment.

Dave Kopel, research director for the Independence Institute, a conservative-leaning Colorado think tank, said the suit will have a difficult time overcoming a federal law that protects the legal manufacture and sale of weapons and ammunition.

Previous lawsuits have attempted but failed to overturn the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, said Kopel, an attorney who represents 53 Colorado sheriffs trying to overturn Colorado’s 2013 gun laws. They are appealing a federal judge’s ruling against them.

The lawsuit says Holmes bought at least 4,300 rounds of ammunition from Lucky Gunner’s website, bulkammo.com, and 700 rounds of ammunition and a 100-round magazine from the Sportsman’s Guide website.

It says Holmes bought two tear gas grenades from BTP Arms and four pieces of body armor from bulletproofbodyarmorhq.com.

The 100-round magazine was one factor that prompted Colorado in 2013 to ban the sale of magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. Investigators have said Holmes’ 100-round magazine jammed during the attack, preventing even more bloodshed.

Prosecutors said Holmes also bought two handguns, a shotgun, a semi-automatic rifle and other equipment from other retailers that are not named as defendants.

The lawsuit renews the gun control debate in the courts at a time when advocates of tighter restrictions have been relatively quiet in state and national politics, wary of motivating gun-rights voters to turn out in greater numbers.

In an Arapahoe County court earlier this year, prosecutors said Holmes bought ammunition and body armor from various online retailers, including bulkammo.com. On the night of the shooting, Holmes’ arsenal included an AR-15 assault rifle, two .40-caliber pistols, a shotgun, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. He was also wearing body armor from head to toe.

According to the Brady Campaign, the lawsuit alleges that the websites “negligently supplied Holmes with the arsenal” and failed “to use any screening mechanism to determine his identity or intent for the products.”

This lawsuit is the first in the nation against online sellers of ammunition and military equipment, according to the Brady group, and it is part of a national effort against “Bad Apple” gun dealers that aims to reform the business practices of gun dealers that irresponsibly sell guns. Nationally, just 5 percent of gun dealers account for nearly all of the guns used in crimes, according to the group.

Ghawi, 24, was an aspiring sports journalist who had moved from Texas a year earlier. Less than two months before her death, she had survived a shooting at a Toronto mall that left two people dead and several wounded.

Several victims have also sued Cinemark, Inc., which owns the theater where the shootings occurred, accusing the company of failing to take adequate security measures.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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John
John
8 years ago

What horse hockey. I suppose we should go after all the car companies who sell cars to drunk drivers. Perhaps we should go after all the computer companies who sell computers to hackers

Maybe just maybe we hold responsible those who actually committed the crime.

Fed up
Fed up
8 years ago
Reply to  John

For Christs sake, enough with the car analogy. Guns are bought to kill things, cars are for transportation

Rob Edwards
Rob Edwards
8 years ago
Reply to  Fed up

Guns sole purpose are not to kill things. They are used in many forms of competition and industry that have zero correlation with taking life. Guns are used to break molds in foundries and to send lines to ships at sea ect. please understand all aspects of what you are trying to comment on.

gemmax
gemmax
8 years ago
Reply to  Rob Edwards

No kidding … As of this moment (9:40 PM EST) none of my firearms have killed anyone. Some I’ve had for the better part of two decades.

Samantha
Samantha
7 years ago
Reply to  gemmax

So? Guns have the potential to kill … but, I guess that illiterate white trash is simply incapable of fore thought, lol.

gemmax
gemmax
7 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

1) “Potential to kill”? – That would apply to almost every item under the sun.

2) I’m not white so your preconceived notions of what gun owners look like doesn’t apply in this situation smarty pants.

Margaux Milchen
Margaux Milchen
7 years ago
Reply to  Rob Edwards

Hogwash

madmike272
madmike272
8 years ago
Reply to  Fed up

As soon as this suit is dropped, the ammo company should counter-sue the parents and the Brady retards!

Samantha
Samantha
7 years ago
Reply to  madmike272

I wish that decent Americans could sue the illiterate white filth that encourages these criminal “ammo companies” to sell these “products”.

TYPE O NEGATIVE
TYPE O NEGATIVE
7 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

Quite down, scumbag

madmike272
madmike272
7 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

Typical knee-jerk leftist moron

DarkGoldMan
DarkGoldMan
7 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

Who “encourages” them to sell a legal product?

(You can say it. The number 1 gun sales staff are the Democratic Party.)

Margaux Milchen
Margaux Milchen
7 years ago
Reply to  madmike272

Too bad we can’t sue you for being an idiot.

madmike272
madmike272
7 years ago

Your parents were related BEFORE marriage

DarkGoldMan
DarkGoldMan
7 years ago

You passed out drunk at a frat party and woke up with more clothes on.

Margaux Milchen
Margaux Milchen
6 years ago
Reply to  DarkGoldMan

I graduated in the 80’s, but I, unlike you, never put myself in such a situation

DarkGoldMan
DarkGoldMan
6 years ago

I’ve never been a drinker.

ReasonForAll
ReasonForAll
8 years ago
Reply to  Fed up

Intent of the tool is not the point. The point is personal responsibility. A drunk driver is responsible for killing a family of 4 just like a shooter is for mowing down children. The tool isn’t the point here, making people accountable is.

Samantha
Samantha
7 years ago
Reply to  ReasonForAll

“Intent” of the “tool” is the primary point but illiterate white trash is incapable of catching the primary point. The primary purpose of firearms is to kill. One day maybe they’ll create firearms capable of turning on the customers who purchase them. I’m all for that one!

ReasonForAll
ReasonForAll
7 years ago
Reply to  Samantha

“The primary purpose of firearms is to kill” – this is an oversimplification that ignores capability. Again, it depends on who has the firearm. Some people use them to intimidate, murder and steal (criminals). Law-abiding citizens use them to defend against all of that illicit activity. There is nothing wrong with that.

You are probably under the mistaken notion that ANYONE who owns a gun must want to shoot, kill, hurt or do something illegal. Untrue.

Lastly, calling people “white trash” doesn’t bolster your argument nor does it nullify one you don’t like. I’d leave that kind of thing at the door if you want to be taken seriously.

Margaux Milchen
Margaux Milchen
7 years ago
Reply to  Fed up

Agreed. It is an idiotic analogy.

Terry
Terry
8 years ago
Reply to  John

I agree with the guy below cars are way different then buying ammo, and they didn”t sell a car to a drunk driver he got drunk while he had the car smart one…but I do agree with you about making people who did the crime be responsible for it, instead of saying he had issues that he couldnt control, i think thats bull crap he always had a decision to do that or not. He chose to kill 12 people so take his life for that

wireknob
wireknob
8 years ago

Another harassment suit by gun control groups, and further evidence that we need tort reform in the U.S., especially having the losing party pay court costs of the opposing party in all states.

Fed up
Fed up
8 years ago
Reply to  wireknob

Its a lawyer thing. Dont let them file and keep a third. Everybody pays up front. End of frivolous lawsuits (except for the wealthy of course)

madmike272
madmike272
8 years ago

After the Brady retards lose, I hope they themselves are counter sued!

Frank2525
Frank2525
8 years ago
Reply to  madmike272

Jihadist kill infidels, of any color, race, or religion. When the revolution comes in USA, first to go will be the lawyers who ginn up these frivolous suits. Problem is lawyers on both sides, make it class action suit, then collect from the general treasury the funds we retirees, veterans, and those still working pay in. Have whole class now depending on the dole, many who have never worked, and think that work is another 4 letter word not allowed.

Common Sense
Common Sense
8 years ago

What great reporting! Why bother to fact check! Holmes was not wearing any body armor at all – so says the police reports. He was wearing a black non-bulletproof vest and no where on his body was anything which was bulletproof. Also, why contact “Lucky Gunner”? It’s part of the record that he purchased ammo from several sources. Why not put a little effort into your reporting? I did wonder, you claim 5% of gun dealers account nearly all guns used in crimes but that does not take into account our own ATF (Fast & Furious) or the “too many to count” law enforcement agencies which have discovered weapons missing from their own inventories.

Tim Dattilo
Tim Dattilo
8 years ago

Funny… Because any jackwagon over the age of 18 can walk out of ANY Walmart with a case of 5.56 rounds. (If they have them in stock)
It goes back to the saying, “guns don’t kill people…”
I 100% agree with John on this… Does this mean I can sue my credit card company for issuing me a card that caused my debt?

Abraham Collins
Abraham Collins
8 years ago

I’m gonna sue Cadillac because my cousin was run over by a drunk driver in an Escalade! Cadillac was negligent in selling this vehicle because they failed to do any screening on the driver’s long history of alcohol abuse! OGOGOGOGOGOGG.

Don Otey
Don Otey
8 years ago

morons!

Don Otey
Don Otey
8 years ago

i guess all the pot smoking in colorado makes people retards!

fishydude
fishydude
8 years ago

The cinema deserves to be sued. They created an environment that was unsafe. Thee public designation as a Gun Free Zone meant that Holmes knew nobody would be shooting back.
If you disarm your customers then you must provide security for your customers.
Personally, I feel safer in businesses that allowed concealed carry.
But the ammo sellers are no more liable that a car dealer is when someone uses a car to kill.

Fed up
Fed up
8 years ago
Reply to  fishydude

Pity your paranoia

John
John
8 years ago
Reply to  Fed up

His paranoia? How about the paranoia from gun grabbers who believe all gun owners are criminals.

madmike272
madmike272
8 years ago
Reply to  Fed up

I pity your stupidity!

Bipolarbear
Bipolarbear
8 years ago
Reply to  fishydude

They are being sued

Frank2525
Frank2525
8 years ago
Reply to  fishydude

I am confused. Just how did the theatre create unsafe environment, since they were operating under same type of rules Aurora requires that deals with public? And I don’t remember any comments after of their employees searching or disarming anyone? Please explain how you arrived at your conclusions? If you can’t I would say you would not be good candidate for any jury, since you seem to accept what MSM prints at face value. And have we not wallowed in this story long enough? I could see cameras in court to document the testimony, but keep it confidential same as that taken by court reporter. Only use in case of appeals, possibly in police training or court training, BUT ABOVE ALL KEEP IT AWAY FROM PUBLIC GOSSIPERS. A lot of more important stuff has occurred that really should capture our attention. I doubt if anyone else named Holmes will come from California, to kill Colorado citizens. And if California had better mental reporting, he would have never come here. Of course they would have problem sorting out which is which?

James in NC`
James in NC`
8 years ago

Typical. Sue til you get a liberal judge or an emotional jury.

The Admiral
The Admiral
8 years ago

Lol “no”

Fed up
Fed up
8 years ago

Scary how many gun nuts read the aurora sentinel. Set yourself back and see what happens, huh?

madmike272
madmike272
8 years ago
Reply to  Fed up

Scary, how many leftards are like you!

Bipolarbear
Bipolarbear
8 years ago
Reply to  Fed up

I just bought 500 rounds of .223 from Walmart

Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
7 years ago
Reply to  Fed up

What wit to come forth and spew from the mouth of such a renown catamite! Cocksuckers like you are the ones who scream from your soapbox and pedal what rights and morals others should posess, all the while never having placed yourself in harms way to protect such rights. What’s pillars of academia did you acquire sucks pearls of wisdom? I would relish the chance to read any logical argument (based on any mathematical or grammatical proof) written by one of the great sages of our times. In truth sir,you should be taken outside and beaten like a harp seal. I bid you good day.

Stop it
Stop it
8 years ago

They should go after Salient Arms International as well. The company’s owner Kenny Gabriel, who’s James Harden’s security guard, really sells weapons online. Sell to anyone, creeps
https://www.facebook.com/SalientArmsInternational
https://instagram.com/salientarmsinternational

Bob Owens
Bob Owens
8 years ago
Reply to  Stop it

You really are quite the idiot.

Salient, like any manufacturer, cannot sell directly to consumers. A customer would “buy” a firearm from Salient, who then sends it the the FFL of choice of the buyer. The buyer must then undergo a FBI NICS background check, undergo and state and local checks, and then, and ONLY then, can they take possession of the firearm.

You really should brush up on your guns laws… and libel laws, as well.

Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
7 years ago
Reply to  Stop it

I thought the company was own by Adrian and Aaron chevez ? Did they sell the company or just the majority share? You libtards should spend more time reading my writing on common sense as you have no idea og civics.

Bomber Hurley Smith
Bomber Hurley Smith
8 years ago

Good! Guns are out of control. Who needs a 100-round magazine

Bomber Hurley Smith
Bomber Hurley Smith
8 years ago

and friggin body armor

GunAwesomeSauce
GunAwesomeSauce
8 years ago

The answer is that your premise is wrong. It’s not the role of the government or you or 51% of voters to determine what someone else “needs”.

Bomber Hurley Smith
Bomber Hurley Smith
8 years ago

nice handle ..nutcase

GunAwesomeSauce
GunAwesomeSauce
8 years ago

Do you have an actual rebuttal or just ad hominem arguments?

You don’t need a computer. You don’t need a car that can go over 55 mph. Better just ban everything that someone doesn’t “need”.

In the end, all that you “need” is a bowl of rice and someone hitting you with a whip to make you work. I guess the government should put you in that position because you don’t need any more than that.

mm
mm
8 years ago

knucklehead

robert
robert
8 years ago

James Holmes had a background check performed when he bought his firearms at Gander Mountain on two separate occasions. He passed. I don’t know how the ammunition retailers could have known he was a would-be murderer. Making a company liable for not being able to tell the future seems irresponsible. I suppose Klein’s Sporting Goods was responsible for the assassination of JFK?

ants
ants
8 years ago

I accidentally killed a dog with my car but the chance of shooting one will never happen. You have more deaths with cars.

Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
7 years ago
Reply to  ants

More deaths by sexual transmitted diseases too…no more sex!!

CrypticPunk
8 years ago

So these companies are being sued because they legally sold goods to someone, that was legally allowed to own them in the state of Colorado? Good luck with this stupid lawsuit.

2fishandhunt
2fishandhunt
8 years ago

Fed up: You do not know what you are writing. Most guns never kill anything unless you count targets or cans. You should think about what you say not just run on emotion. I believe the plaintiffs are seeking two things: 1. revenge, in a distorted way and 2. Money. The courts should stop hearing cases of this sort and do business where it is needed.

John Von Neumann
John Von Neumann
7 years ago

I am very sorry they lost their daughter. The people who sold the ammunition are not responsible.