BOSTON (AP) — A Boston police officer on Thursday sued the online marketplace where the gun used to shoot him was sold, alleging it lacks necessary safeguards to prevent weapons from getting into the wrong hands.
The lawsuit filed by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence on behalf of 39-year-old Kurt Stokinger accuses Armslist.com of enabling illegal gun trafficking by allowing users to buy and sell guns with “essentially no rules.”
Authorities say Stokinger, a nine-year member of the police department, was shot in the leg in January 2016 by a Grant Headley, who the lawsuit says illegally bought the gun on the street from a woman who had purchased weapons through Armslist.
“This is not an anti-gun case. Certainly officer Stokinger is not an anti-gun person in any way,” said Jonathan Lowy, an attorney with the Brady Center. “It is about ensuring that guns are sold the right way instead of the wrong way and that’s something that all of us, whatever our views are on gun policy, should agree on.”
An attorney for Armslist in a different case didn’t immediately respond to phone and email messages on Thursday. Armslist has argued it can’t be held responsible for the actions of its users.
Courts had agreed in at least two cases until the Wisconsin appeals court this year reinstated a lawsuit against Armslist, rejecting its argument that federal law absolves its operators of liability. The case is being appealed to the state’s highest court.
Stokinger’s lawsuit says Headley got the gun through Sara Johnson, who authorities say bought dozens of guns through Armslist and then resold them to drug dealers and gang members. Johnson pleaded guilty in February to federal firearm charges, and her attorney didn’t return an email seeking comment. Both Johnson and Headley are also being sued by Stokinger.
Headley has pleaded not guilty to shooting Stokinger and is awaiting trial. His lawyer in the criminal case didn’t return a phone message.
The Brady Center argues in the lawsuit that Armslist lets users buy guns anonymously without having to register through the website and avoid background checks by limiting searches to private sellers. There are also no limits on the number of guns that can be sold or bought by an individual, the lawsuit says.