Do You Have 5 Seconds to Help End Gun Violence?

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Jitka Vesel, 36

On the evening of April 13, 2011, Jitka was volunteering at a small museum in a quiet Chicago suburb. She loved being part of the museum’s close community, and the community adored her.

Jitka was alone in the museum parking lot when Dmitry Smirnov, a man who was obsessed with her, ambushed her with a .40-caliber handgun.

Dmitry lived in Vancouver, British Columbia. Unbeknownst to Jikta, he had been in town for two weeks and was stalking her. He had come to kill her.

Smirnov couldn’t legally buy a handgun, so he exploited a gaping hole in our gun laws that allowed him to go online and buy gun without first having to pass a background check. He logged on to, found a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson, and arranged a meeting in a casino parking lot with Benedict Ladera, an unlicensed seller who had posted over 20 guns for sale on Armslist.

As Ladera was not a licensed gun seller, he did not conduct a Brady background check on his customers. If one had been performed, it would have probably taken less than 60 seconds. And Smirnov—a Canadian national—would not have been able to purchase the gun.

Benedict Ladera knew it was illegal to sell his gun to Jitka’s killer. But for an extra $200 cash, he agreed to look the other way. During sentencing, he would later tell the court, “I didn’t mean for it to happen. My mistake was the reason a life was lost.

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