PHILADELPHIA, Penn — On the heels of suing JSD Supply and Polymer80, the city of Philadelphia has teamed up with another anti-gun group to sue local gun stores.
Mayor Jim Kenney announced that the city is suing three local gun stores with the help of Everytown for Gun Safety. The named stores are Delia’s Gun Shop and Frank’s Gun Shop & Shooting Range in Northeast Philadelphia, and Tanner’s Sport Center in Jamison, Bucks County. Mayor Kenney claims that these gun stores knowingly supplied firearms to criminals and minors through straw purchases.
The Mayor accused the gun stores of “illegal activities” for monetary gain. No criminal charges are pending against the stores’ owners or employees. No evidence has been presented by the plaintiffs that point to the stores knowingly facilitating straw purchases. The Philadelphia suit is a civil suit and not a criminal case.
“I think the reason they do what they do is because of greed and, if they are driven by greed, then the best place to get them is their pocketbook,” Mayor Kenney, said at the announcement of the lawsuit. “They are selling these guns to straw purchasers because they are greedy.”
The suit, filed in the Court of Common Pleas, claims that 158 firearms acquired from the stores through straw purchases were used in crimes between 2015 and 2019. The suit also claims that the stores should have been able to spot the straw purchases because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “trained” the store owners.
Tanner’s Sport Center was sold to new owners this past December, meaning the city is suing the new owners over accusations against the previous owners. It seems like the Mayor, Everytown, and the city is not cutting the new owners any slack and holding them accountable for the alleged sins of the previous owners.
The city is asking the court to require the stores to crack down on straw purchases and provide the city with a yet-to-be-determined “financial compensation to address the harms caused by gun violence in our communities, which has been facilitated by the illegal activities of the vendors named in the lawsuit,” the Philadelphia Mayor said in a press release provided to media members.
The Protection of Lawful Commerce of Arms Act (PLCAA) protects gun stores from lawsuits stemming from criminals using guns acquired from the shops, but the law has a loophole. The law will not prevent the stores from being sued for illegal activity or gross negligence. Anti-gun groups have launched continuing legal education (CLE) classes to teach lawyers to sue gun manufacturers and stores using this loophole.
There has also been a rise in anti-gun groups teaming up with cities to sue gun industry members. Most of the time, non-governmental groups pick the target of the lawsuits and argue the cases. The localities usually pick up the bill and pay with taxpayer money, giving these anti-gun groups an almost unlimited war chest.
We have also seen an uptick in anti-gun groups using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to acquire information from the ATF about industry operations inspections and ATF trace requests of gun stores around major cities. This information has been used to sue firearms manufacturers and gun stores. The Biden Administration wants to make this information available to the public without a FOIA request which could lead to an explosion of lawsuits.
It seems like the strategy of anti-gun groups is to sue anyone in the gun industry out of business. It is more important than ever to push back on any attempts to remove the PLCAA.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.