WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that an online gun exchange cannot be held liable for a shooting committed with a gun illegally purchased on the site.
The justices declined to hear an an appeal of an April ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court that found that a federal law that shields website operators from liability for user content applied to Armslist LLC, the operator of Armslist.com.
Armslist is an Oklahoma-based website that allows users to post classified advertisements for firearms and related equipment. Potential buyers contact sellers directly.
The lawsuit, including several claims under Wisconsin law such as negligence and wrongful death, stemmed from a 2012 shooting at a beauty salon in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Gunman Radcliffe Haughton killed his wife, Zina Daniel, and two of her co-workers there before taking his own life. Four other people were injured in the shooting.
Daniel’s daughter brought the lawsuit.
SCOTUS went the other way before the Armslist appeal
Earlier this month, on Nov. 12, the Supreme Court also rejected Remington Arms Co’s bid to escape a lawsuit by families of victims aiming to hold the gun maker liable for its marketing of the assault-style rifle used in the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre that killed 20 children and six adults.
The justices turned away Remington’s appeal of a ruling by Connecticut’s top court to let the lawsuit proceed despite a federal law that broadly shields firearms manufacturers from liability when their weapons are used in crimes.
The justices have taken up one important gun rights case in their current term.
They are due to hear arguments on Dec. 2 in a lawsuit by gun owners and the state’s NRA affiliate challenging New York City restrictions on handgun owners transporting firearms outside the home. The city had asked the justices to cancel the arguments because its measure was recently amended, meaning there was no longer any reason to hear the dispute. But the court decided to go ahead with the case.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; editing by Will Dunham; Pluralist contributed to this report)