Federal Appeals Court Throws Out Lawsuits Against Online Firearm Marketplace

On June 12, 2023, a federal appeals court ruled that an online firearms marketplace Armslist cannot be liable for several shootings that took place in Wisconsin involving firearms bought through ads featured on the website.

A three-judge panel on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals supported the lower court’s dismissal of the two lawsuits suits in a joint decision. The court ruled that while the circumstances concerning the cases “are grave and the allegations are serious,” Armslist cannot be held liable for negligence under Wisconsin law because it is technically not a firearms dealer.

“Concluding that the allegations in this first category can proceed would impose the responsibilities of firearms dealers on actors which the Wisconsin legislature has not chosen to regulate in this manner,” Judge Michael Brennan, a Donald Trump appointee, wrote the opinion on behalf of the court. “It would also hold Armslist LLC liable for failing to operate as an arm of the state where Wisconsin has not given it this function. Just so, on allegations about background checks and transaction records—the second category—the Wisconsin legislature has not chosen to regulate websites or private sellers…or to oblige them with enforcement.”

This ruling represents a significant blow to gun control proponents’ campaign to make gun companies liable for crimes committed with firearms used by third parties. Such legal machinations are generally banned by the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. One of the most notable cases of the gun controllers using civil suits to shake down the gun industry was the $73 million settlement between Remington’s insurers and the families of the individuals killed in the Sandy Hook massacre of 2012. Gun controllers have had success in passing new laws in blue states that make it easier for crime victims to take legal action against gun businesses.

This is just one front the gun controllers are exploiting in their quest to destroy the Second Amendment. When legislative action can’t get the job done, turning to the courts to bankrupt gun businesses will suffice. For that reason, gun owners must be ready for prolonged fights in the court system. 

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