Johnson v. Bull's Eye
Victory in Holding Gun Sellers Accountable on Behalf of Victims and Families in DC Sniper Case
In 2002, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo killed 17 people and injured seven on a nine-month crime spree. This crime spree included three weeks of sniper shootings, which killed ten individuals in the Maryland, Washington D.C, and Virginia area, infamously known as the D.C. Sniper Attacks.
The snipers obtained their gun, a Bushmaster XM-15, from Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply, a gun store run in such a grossly negligent manner that guns routinely left the store without a record of the sale. Bull’s Eye claimed that it had no record of selling the snipers’ XM-15 when federal agents requested its sale documents
On January 16, 2003, Brady filed suit against the snipers, Bull’s Eye, and Bushmaster. The lawsuit alleged that the store was responsible for the shootings due to its grossly negligent sales practices, which allowed the shooters to acquire the weapon. The suit also alleged that Bushmaster was accountable for continuing to supply the store despite years of audits by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) that found egregious violations. Lastly, the suit claimed that the defendants created a public nuisance by distributing and selling guns in such a grossly negligent manner.
After the trial court held that the dealer and manufacturer could be held liable for the shootings, the parties agreed to a settlement in a pre-trial mediation session: Bull’s Eye would pay $2 million to the families, and Bushmaster would pay $568,000 out of its insurance policy. As part of the settlement, Bushmaster agreed to reform its distribution practices and stated that it supported laws requiring licensing and ATF monitoring for firearms dealers. ATF later revoked Bull’s Eye’s license to sell guns.