* Center says lawsuit is the first of its kind
* Argues case does not infringe on right to bear arms
By Mary Wisniewski
CHICAGO, Dec 12 A prominent U.S. gun control
group on Wednesday sued a gun auction website it says is linked
to a mass shooting at a Wisconsin spa in October and the stalker
slaying of a woman near Chicago in 2011.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence alleges that the
design of armslist.com facilitates illegal online sales to
unlawful gun buyers with no background checks, and enables users
to evade laws that permit private sellers to sell guns only to
residents of their own state.
"We as a nation are better than an anonymous Internet gun
market where killers and criminals can easily get guns," said
Jonathan Lowy, the Brady Center's Legal Action Project Director,
in a statement.
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit
Court on behalf of the family of Jitka Vesel, 36, an immigrant
from the Czech Republic who was shot and killed last year by
Demetry Smirnov, a stalker.
The suit, which the Brady Center says is the first of its
kind, alleges that Smirnov illegally bought the gun from a
private seller he located through armslist.com.
Vesel was killed in the parking lot of the Chicago-area
Czechoslovak Heritage Museum, where she was a volunteer
preparing for a celebration in memory of Czech-American Chicago
Mayor Anton Cermak.
Cermak was slain with a handgun during an attempted
assassination of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.
A representative for website owner Armslist, LLC was not
immediately available for comment. The company is based in
Noble, Oklahoma, according to public records.
must promise they are age 18 or older and will not use the site
for illegal purposes.
The Brady Center said that the case does not infringe on the
Second Amendment right to bear arms, noting that 74 percent of
National Rifle Association members believe that no guns should
be sold without a criminal background check.
A representative for the NRA was not immediately available
Radcliffe Haughton, who killed his estranged wife and two
other women and wounded four others before killing himself in a
shooting in a Milwaukee suburb on Oct. 21, also got his weapon
through armslist.com, according to Wisconsin officials.
Haughton, who was under a restraining order for domestic
violence, avoided a background check through a "lethal loophole"
by buying a gun through the website, according to a letter to
Armslist sent by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Wisconsin U.S.
Representative Gwen Moore on Oct. 26.
Sales conducted over the Internet also have been linked to
mass killings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University.
In 1999 eBay announced it was prohibiting online gun
sales, according to the Brady Center lawsuit.
Craigslist did the same in 2007. Amazon.com and
Google AdWords also prohibits the listing of firearms
for sale, the suit says.
An undercover investigation of online gun sales by New York
City last year found that 62 percent of private gun sellers
agreed to sell a firearm to a buyer who said he probably could
not pass a background check.