Washington, D.C., September 5, 2019 — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has ruled that survivors and family members of the victims from the 2015 Charleston church shooting can proceed with their lawsuit against the federal government, reversing a trial court decision that the Brady Law provided immunity from suit. Brady hailed the monumental decision as a step toward justice.
Brady, represented by Scott H. Angstreich and Benjamin S. Softness from Kellogg Hansen, filed an amicus brief in support of the survivors and families and specifically focused on an analysis of the immunity afforded under the Brady Bill. Brady, represented by Benjamin Softness, argued this point before the Fourth Circuit panel.
Tanya Schardt, Senior Counsel for Brady stated,
“Brady went to court seeking justice for the survivors and victim families of the Charleston church shooting, and we are happy to be part of the team that secured this victory. The court heard us loud and clear: The federal government is in no way immune from liability under the Brady Act, when it comes to this horrific tragedy, which could and should have been avoided.”
Benjamin S. Softness, Attorney at Kellogg Hansen stated,
“The Brady Act gives the federal government a critical role in keeping guns out of the hands of the wrong people, and we’re honored to work with Brady to make sure that responsibility is upheld. The Fourth Circuit’s ruling makes clear that the Brady Act does not allow the federal government to escape accountability for the consequences of its tragic mistake.”
The legal case involves a failure of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and highlights a dangerous gap in the law that permits gun sales to go through after three days — even if a background check hasn’t been completed. If not for this so-called “Charleston loophole,” the shooter would not have been able to obtain the gun he used to kill nine people at the Emanuel AME Church.
The court cited Brady in its decision stating, “As the Brady Center points out, moreover, when Congress seeks to immunize the Federal Government from liability, it knows how to do so...No such grant of immunity exists here.”
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.