Tampa, FL, August 4, 2017 — The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence today announced the settlement of a lawsuit against a Florida gun dealer, Gerald Tanso, who operated the Lock N Load gun store. The lawsuit, brought by the Brady Center and White & Case on behalf of the families of Imari Shabata and Kelley Allen, alleged that Lock N Load sold a gun in a straw purchase that was used by a seriously mentally ill man to murder them. Shibata and Allen were the shooter's mother and girlfriend, respectively.
In the settlement Tanso agreed not to engage in the gun business again and publicly recommended all gun dealers improve business practices to prevent firearms from winding up in dangerous hands, stating, "We must exercise great caution and due diligence with great responsibility in preventing firearms from getting in the wrong hands of people who seek to harm us all. I support laws that protect our Second Amendment and the laws that protect our society from criminal elements who would abuse that right to the detriment of others. I encourage all gun dealers, including the new owner of my gun shop, to implement such measures."
Tanso went on to list several steps that he recommends gun dealers to adopt, all of which are part of the Brady Center's Gun Dealer Code of Conduct, including:
- Refusing to transfer a gun until the purchaser has cleared a completed background check;
- Screen, identify, and refuse sale to straw purchasers and traffickers;
- Immediately notifying law enforcement of any suspected straw purchase or dangerous persons who attempt to buy guns;
- Ensure employees are responsible and law-abiding
Jon Lowy, co-counsel for plaintiffs and director of Brady's Legal Action Project, said, "We are very pleased with this settlement. This case shows how we can reform the gun industry, and how gun dealers and gun violence prevention advocates can agree on common sense ways to prevent dangerous people from getting guns. We now have an experienced gun dealer recommending many of the reforms that Brady has been advocating for years. We hope and expect other gun dealers to heed that message."
Brady Center chief legal officer Avery Gardiner said, "This was a win for our team and for the community. We stand by the allegations made in our suit, but as a result of this excellent settlement we are moving forward with our goal to reform the rest of the gun industry. Ninety percent of all crime guns can be traced back to just five percent of gun dealers, those who bend the rules and break the laws to sell guns to dangerous people. These bad apple gun dealers flood communities with crime guns, and we'll continue our work every day to reform them, or see them shut down."
Evan Goldenberg, of White & Case and co-counsel for plaintiffs, said, "We are proud to have had the opportunity to work with the Brady Center to achieve this result. Our pro bono work has a strong focus on providing access to justice and promoting the rule of law, and our work with the Brady Center in this case is an important example of that commitment."
This settlement is a big win for the Brady Center's legal team. For twenty years, the Brady Center has sought justice for gun violence victims and reformed or shut down bad apple gun dealers that break the law and skirt best practices. The Brady Center has successfully brought numerous lawsuits holding gun companies accountable for their contribution to gun deaths and injuries, and has pending lawsuits in courts across the country.
This victory comes just days after Florida Gov. Rick Scott approved an agreement to pay $1.1 million in legal fees to attorneys including the Brady Center and its pro bono partners who, representing doctors, successfully challenged an NRA-backed Florida law that prevented doctors from talking to their patients about the risks of guns in the home.
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.