Allen v. Lock N Load
Victory in Reforming Florida Gun Dealer After Murder From Straw Purchase
In a tremendous victory, the Brady legal team got the owner of Florida gun shop Lock N Load, Gerald Tanso, to quit the gun business.
On the night of October 27, 2012, 18-year-old Benjamin Bishop of Oldsmar, FL, shot and killed his mother, her nursing assistant Imari Shibata, and her boyfriend, Kelley Allen. All three victims were shot and killed while they slept. The gun used to kill them had been obtained in an illegal straw purchase — a sale in which the buyer has another person fill out the paperwork and pass the background check in his or her place.
Bishop, who suffers from schizophrenia and had a history of drug abuse and violent behavior, was denied a shotgun sale by Lock N Load because of a criminal record. Lock N Load later sold the gun to another 18-year-old friend who came into the store with Bishop. Bishop returned a third time and was sold ammo for the shotgun.
The Brady legal team filed suit against Lock N Load, alleging that the dealer was negligent in providing the gun to Bishop’s friend, failed to take easy steps to determine who the actual buyer of the shotgun was, and breached its duty to use reasonable care in selling lethal weapons. We’re grateful for pro bono legal support from the law firm of White & Case in this lawsuit.
In August 2017, Brady reached a milestone settlement to hold gun dealers accountable for negligent or irresponsible business practices. Today, Tanso no longer owns Lock N Load and has agreed to never engage in the business of selling firearms again. Tanso also issued a public statement recommending that gun dealers use specific business practices to ensure guns don’t end up in dangerous hands. These measures — which will greatly reduce straw purchases in the future — include the following:
- Refusing to complete a gun sale until a background check has been completed;
- Developing and implementing security protocols;
- Conducting criminal background checks on potential employees;
- Notifying law enforcement of suspected illegal or dangerous purchases.