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Appeals Court Holds That Victim Lawsuit Can Proceed Against Gun Dealer For Ammunition Sale, Rules Federal Law Does Not Shield Gun Companies

Washington, D.C., October 16, 2020 - Brady applauds the decision of the Appellate Division of the Fourth Judicial Department of New York for upholding a trial court ruling that denied national gun dealer Cabela’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit by the family of Anthony King. Brady Legal attorneys Jonathan Lowy and Erin Davis are co-counsel for the King family with Jeff Voelkl and Leonard Zaccagnino. Plaintiffs allege that Cabela’s wrongfully sold handgun ammunition to a minor, who then used it in Anthony’s shooting death. The Court’s decision affirms that the Protection of the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act’s (PLCAA) does not shield gun dealers from being held accountable for illegal and negligent ammunition sales.

Brady Vice President for Legal Jonathan Lowy, who argued the case before the appellate court, shared:

“This decision is an important step toward justice for the family of Anthony C. King, and toward holding gun dealers accountable when they do not abide by the law and thereby cause injury or death to innocent people. With rights come responsibilities, and gun dealers are responsible for making sure their sales of guns and ammunition are careful, legal, and not likely to arm dangerous people, including that dealers must follow laws designed to keep guns and ammunition out of the hands of young people. These laws save countless lives every year, but negligent gun dealers jeopardize the impact of this life-saving legislation. This case exemplifies the importance of consistent enforcement of gun violence prevention laws in holding gun dealers accountable.”

About the case:

The complaint alleges that on November 6, 2016, nineteen-year-old Jake Klocek shot and killed Anthony King, a nineteen-year-old athlete at the University of Buffalo. Klocek was house sitting for the McCarthy family in Erie County, New York, and the McCarthys left their gun safe containing two handguns unlocked and open. Klocek removed the two handguns from the safe and then, plaintiffs allege, went to a New York Cabela’s store that sold him two boxes of handgun ammunition.

The complaint alleges that Cabela’s knew Klocek was under 21 but chose to sell him the handgun ammunition. Plaintiffs alleged that the .45 ACP ammunition that Klocek used with the handgun was illegally sold by Cabela’s.

After finishing work on November 6th, armed with two handguns and ammunition sold by Cabela’s, Jake invited Anthony King to the McCarthy home where he took the handgun out of a drawer and shot and killed Anthony.

The suit alleges Cabela’s violated 18 U.S.C. § 922(b) which holds it is unlawful for a licensed dealer to sell “any firearm ammunition to any individual who the licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe is less than eighteen years of age, and, if the firearm, or ammunition is other than a shotgun or rifle, or ammunition for a shotgun or rifle, to any individual who the licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe is less than twenty-one.”

Additionally, the lawsuit involves negligence entrustment claims against Cabela’s as well as claims against the shooter and homeowners.

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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