NEW YORK APPEALS COURT TO HEAR FIRST-IN-NATION CASE AGAINST GUN SELLERS WHO SUPPLIED TRAFFICKING RING WITH HUNDREDS OF GUNS
(Washington, D.C.) – On Friday, September 7, 2012 at 10 a.m., a panel of judges in the New York Appellate Division (4th Department) in Rochester, New York will hear arguments in a first-in-the-nation case, deciding whether a controversial federal gun industry shield law protects gun sellers who negligently and illegally sell guns to traffickers. The court will decide whether to reinstate a lawsuit brought by Danny Williams, a former Buffalo high school basketball star who was shot with one of hundreds of guns sold in high-volume, all-cash sales at an Ohio gun show to a notorious gun trafficking ring. Williams was 16 when he was shot and severely wounded, in a case of mistaken identity, as he played basketball near his Buffalo home on August 16, 2003.
Jonathan Lowy, an attorney with the Brady Center, will argue the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act does not bar Williams’ suit because it was irresponsible and illegal for MKS, an Ohio distributor, HiPoint, an Ohio manufacturer; and Charles Brown, an Ohio dealer, to sell 181 Saturday Night Special handguns to notorious gun trafficker James Bostic and his two accomplices, when they had reason to know they were supplying a gun-trafficking operation. The criminal transaction included an 87-handgun, all-cash sale by Brown. Lowy will also argue that the federal shield law is unconstitutional. A Buffalo trial judge dismissed the lawsuit on April 25, 2011, ruling that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act immunized the gun companies from liability.
“We are better than a nation that allows gun companies to knowingly supply criminal traffickers with hundreds of guns and then receive special exemptions from the civil justice system – exemptions that no one else in society enjoys,” said Jonathan Lowy, attorney for the Brady Center. “What we value as a nation is reflected in our Constitution, and that’s the idea that no one is above the law, and that Congress should not be allowed to give its well-connected friends a ‘get out of court free’ pass, or to deny innocent victims their day in court.”
Bostic traveled to Ohio, which, unlike New York, does not require a license to purchase a gun, to buy Saturday Night Special handguns for under $100 apiece. He then sold them for two to three times the price on the streets of Buffalo. Between May and October 2000, Bostic purchased at least 181 Hi-Point handguns from gun dealer Charlie Brown at a gun show in Dayton, Ohio. In addition to the guns recovered in Buffalo, 630 guns sold by MKS were recovered in connection with crime in New York, and a Hi-Point semiautomatic rifle sold by MKS was used in the 1999 Columbine High school massacre.
When Williams was shot, with one of the guns bought by Bostic, he was prepared to enter his junior year at McKinley High School, where he was a good student and star point guard on the basketball team. He required 22 staples to close the wound and could barely walk when he was released from the hospital.
This is the first case in which an appeals court will determine whether a gun dealer, manufacturer, or distributor may be liable under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act for supplying a gun trafficking operation.
Terrence Connors, James Grable, and Eric Soehnlein of the Buffalo law firm of Connors & Vilardo are co-counsel for Danny Williams.
The argument will be held at 10 a.m., at the M. Dolores Denman Courthouse, 50 East Ave., Rochester, N.Y. 14604, (585) 530-3100.
The mission of the Brady organization is to create a safer America for all of us that will lead to the dramatic reduction in gun deaths and injuries that we all seek. Dan Gross is the President of the Brady Campaign and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. A photo and more information about Dan Gross is available here. For more insight on gun violence prevention, follow The Brady Blog, Facebook Page and Twitter Account. Brady News Releases are available via RSS.