Friday, August 4, 2023

Philadelphia Joins Forces with Gun Control Group to Litigate Against Local Firearm Retailers


Following their legal action against JSD Supply and Polymer80, the city of Philadelphia has joined forces with an additional gun control group to bring lawsuits against local firearm retailers.

Philadelphia's Mayor, Jim Kenney, announced that the city, in collaboration with Everytown for Gun Safety, is initiating lawsuits against three local firearm retailers, namely, Delia’s Gun Shop, Frank’s Gun Shop & Shooting Range, both located in Northeast Philadelphia, and Tanner’s Sport Center in Jamison, Bucks County. The Mayor alleges that these gun stores purposely provided firearms to criminals and underage individuals via straw purchases.

Mayor Kenney contended that the firearm retailers engaged in "unlawful practices" for financial profit. At present, no criminal charges have been instituted against the owners or staff of these stores. No proof has been offered by the accusers to substantiate their claim that the retailers knowingly abetted straw purchases. The suit filed by Philadelphia is a civil case, not a criminal one.

Mayor Kenney remarked at the lawsuit's announcement, “Their motivation is greed, and if they're driven by greed, their wallet is where we hit them hardest. They are supplying guns to straw purchasers out of pure greed.”

The lawsuit, registered with the Court of Common Pleas, argues that 158 firearms used in crimes between 2015 and 2019 were procured from these stores through straw purchases. The lawsuit further claims that the stores should have been capable of identifying these straw purchases as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had "trained" the store owners.

Tanner’s Sport Center changed hands last December, which means the lawsuit is targeting the new owners for alleged violations by the former owners. It appears the Mayor, Everytown, and the city are not sparing the new owners, holding them liable for the alleged transgressions of the past proprietors.

The city's request from the court includes compelling the stores to curb straw purchases and compensate the city for an unspecified amount for the harm inflicted by gun violence, which they claim was enabled by the stores' illegal activities, as per a press release from the Mayor's office.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce of Arms Act (PLCAA) shields gun stores from legal claims resulting from criminals using guns bought from these stores. However, the law does have a loophole; it does not offer protection from lawsuits for illicit activities or gross negligence. Gun control groups have been offering continuing legal education (CLE) classes teaching lawyers how to sue gun manufacturers and stores exploiting this loophole.

Recent trends show an increase in gun control groups partnering with cities to sue members of the gun industry. More often than not, these non-governmental organizations identify the targets for the lawsuits and present the cases, while the localities foot the bill using taxpayer funds, providing the gun control groups with virtually limitless resources.

The usage of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain information from the ATF regarding industry operation inspections and trace requests of gun stores in large cities has seen a rise amongst gun control groups. This data has been utilized to bring lawsuits against gun stores and firearm manufacturers. The Biden administration's intention to make such information public without requiring a FOIA request could potentially lead to a surge in legal action.

Gun control groups' tactics appear to focus on litigating any entity within the gun industry into bankruptcy. Therefore, it is now more crucial than ever to resist any efforts aimed at abolishing the PLCAA.

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