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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
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Brady Center Sues Florida Gun Dealer Over Deaths

(CN) - Tampa, Fla., gun dealer Lock N Load negligently sold gun and ammunition that a teenager later used them to kill his mother and her boyfriend, a lawsuit claims.

In a complaint filed in Pinellas County, Fla., the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence says the gun dealer knew that the sale of the murder weapon was a straw purchase, and therefore is liable for the victim's deaths.

"Two people lost their lives because a dangerous teenager was able to arm himself through a straw purchase that never should have happened," said Jonathan Lowy, Director of the Brady Center's Legal Action Project, in a written statement.

"Most gun dealers are responsible business people who would never engage in straw sales of firearms, but unfortunately a few 'bad apple' dealers endanger our communities by putting profits over the lives of people, and choosing to supply the criminal gun market," Lowy added.

The complaint is the second such lawsuit the nonprofit has filed in the past five weeks. It is apart of a national campaign to stop so-called "bad apple" gun dealers, which the organization describes as the 5 percent of gun dealers who are alleged to supply nearly all of the guns used in crimes in the United States.

"'Bad apple' gun dealers must be held accountable for their irresponsible sales practices in order to make our communities safer," Lowy said. "We want to send a message to the gun industry that they need to clean up their business practices, or they will be held accountable for the damage they cause."

The complaint says that Benjamin Bishop, of Oldsmar, Fla., attempted to buy a shotgun himself shortly before 2012 murders, but he was turned away because he had a criminal record. However, it claims the dealer was perfectly willing to sell the gun to a friend of Bishop, when the pair returned to the store later.

The Brady Center says the dealer later sold Bishop the ammunition directly, despite knowing of his criminal record.

Bishop used the shotgun and ammunition to kill his mother Imari Shibata and her boyfriend Kelley Allen.

The lawsuit alleges Lock N Load failed to take reasonable steps to determine whether Bishop's friend was the actual purchaser of the shotgun, and that in selling Bishop the ammunition, it should have known it was likely going to be use to cause death or injury.

The Brady Center is being represented by its in-house counsel, Jonathan Lowy, Alla Lefkowitz and Kelly Sampson, and by Evan Goldenberg and Adam Schwartzbaum of White & Case, in Miami, Florida, who are providing their services pro bono.

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