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Brady Center Files Amicus Brief in Charleston Church Shooting Appeal

Washington, D.C., October 16, 2018 - More than three years after a white supremacist shot and murdered nine African Americans in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed an amicus brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting a lawsuit brought by the victims’ families. The suit, which was brought against the federal government, had alleged that the government should be liable for the numerous failures during the background check process that allowed the shooter to obtain his guns. The case was dismissed earlier this year and is currently on appeal. The full amicus brief can be found here.

In the brief, the Brady Center asserts that the provision of the Brady Act at issue is clear that immunity from a lawsuit does not extend to the federal government itself - only to limited local and state government actors, and even then, only in certain circumstances. The federal government, per the brief, remains liable in rare circumstances like the one that led to the Charleston shooting. The brief argues that the victims’ families should be able to hold the government accountable through this lawsuit, and that doing so is consistent with the Brady Act.

"Brady background checks save lives, and have stopped more than three million gun sales to prohibited purchasers since the Brady Act became law," said Brady attorney Mariel Goetz. "But the system only works if the government does what it has promised to do. As the organization that fought to make the Brady Act law, we are firmly committed to ensuring that the government does its job to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. Responsible parties must be held accountable when they fail to do their duty and deadly shootings result. In this case, that includes the federal government, and the families of the victims deserve justice.”

“The lower court granted the government a blanket immunity that no statute provides — especially not the Brady Act, the statute the government violated when it failed to block the sale of the gun to Dylann Roof,” said Kellogg Hansen attorney Benjamin Softness. “We are pleased we had the opportunity to continue our partnership with the Brady Center on efforts to reduce gun violence through accountability and access to the courts.”

The brief was authored by the Brady Center and Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel, & Frederick, P.L.L.C.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is dedicated to reducing gun injuries and deaths in America by stemming all of the causes of gun violence. For more than 25 years, the Brady Center’s legal team has fought in and out of the courts to obtain justice for victims of gun violence, to reform dangerous industry practices, and to defend reasonable gun violence prevention laws.The Brady Center routinely files amicus briefs in state and federal cases involving the constitutionality and interpretation of firearms laws, including the Brady Act.

Kellogg Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, P.L.L.C. is a preeminent trial and appellate litigation firm founded on the idea that talent, creativity, and hard work achieve the best results for clients. Kellogg Hansen lawyers are highly qualified, credentialed, and experienced in representing both plaintiffs and defendants in trials and appeals throughout the United States.

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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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