Thursday, September 18, 2014
Parents of Aurora shooting victim sue four online arms retailers, all of whom appear to have acted within the law
The parents (Sandy and Lonnie Phillips_ of a woman (Jessica Ghawi) killed in an Aurora, CO theater July 20, 2012 are suing four online arms retailers in federal court for not exercising safeguards to keep “dangerous people’ from buying guns. Brandon Johansson has a story in the Aurora Sentinel, link here. The Guardian has the AP story here.
It would appear that the suit has a difficult hurled, the 200t Protection of Commerce in Arms Act (Wikipedia here). On the surface, it appears that the sites probably complied with federal and state laws.
It sounds as though the kind of background checks proposed (and sometimes required now) would not have caught Holmes. What would be needed would be a database that can track and warn sellers if someone is “accumulating an arsenal” in an unusual manner. Congress would need to provide legal requirements on how such a database would be used. It is true that some of the items Holmes bought sound unusual, but it seems that the sales were lawful.
The idea reminds me of Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (and the DMCA Safe Harbor) which protect online service provider from liability for most behavior of users.