MILWAUKEE (CN) – Barely a week after jurors held a gun seller liable to police officers shot with a straw-bought gun, a woman is suing a massive online firearms broker over the death of her mother.
Yasmeen Daniel says Radcliffe Haughton murdered her mother in front of her in an Oct. 21, 2012, mass shooting at Azana Spa and Salon.
In addition to his hairstylist wife, Haughton killed two of her co-workers, injured four others and then shot himself in the head.
Three years to the day of her mother’s death, Daniel filed suit against the website that brokered Haughton’s acquisition of an FNP-40 semiautomatic handgun.
She notes that her mother had taken a restraining order out against the abusive Haughton in the days before the Brookfield shooting.
With Zina testifying about her husband’s threats, saying they “terrorize my every waking moment,” Daniel says “the court also prohibited Radcliffe Haughton from possessing a firearm until October 18, 2016, finding ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that he might use a firearm to harm Zina Daniel Haughton and endanger public safety.”
“After the October 18, 2012 hearing, Zina Daniel Haughton may have believed that she was finally safe,” the complaint filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court states. “If Radcliffe Haughton attempted to purchase a firearm from a responsible, licensed dealer, the sale would be blocked by a federally required background check, and law enforcement would be aware that Radcliffe Haughton, a prohibited purchaser, had attempted to illegally acquire a firearm.”
Haughton instead went through Armslist.com, described by its founder Jonathan Gibbon as “a gun show that never ends,” apparently referring to a controversial loophole in gun-control law that does not require background checks on purchases made at gun shows, the 53-page complaint states.
Daniel says Armslist allows private sellers to post guns for sale, and does not require buyers to pass any kind of screening or even give personal information before contacting the seller and arranging a sale.
A day before he killed his wife, Haughton gave Devin Linn $500 cash in a McDonald’s parking lot for an FNP-40 and three high-capacity magazines, paying a premium price for the anonymity and the instant availability that Armslist brokered.
Daniel says she was at the salon on the day of Haughton’s rampage, avoiding death only because another woman stood in front of her and took the fatal bullet.
“Had Armslist used reasonable care, Radcliffe Haughton would not have obtained the firearm he used to kill,” the complaint states.
Daniel says Armslist.com was created to fill the void left when sites such as Craigslist, eBay and Amazon stopped selling guns online, reportedly to comply with federal laws on firearm sales.
The site allows users to search by private seller only, taking advantage of laws in some states that do not require a background check on or even a free, public search of the state’s court records database if a gun is sold by an individual and not a licensed dealer, according to the complaint.
Daniel says Armslist has supplied murder weapons in other recorded cases, and that several known Milwaukee criminals use the site to traffic guns.
“The share of criminals who purchase guns on Armslist.com is at least four times higher than the share who attempt to purchase at licensed dealers,” the complaint states.
Daniel insists that her claim does not interfere with the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, nor does it challenge the responsible businesses that sell guns to law-abiding citizens.
“This lawsuit is about the criminal use of guns and a company that knowingly and for profit designed and effectuated a marketplace to facilitate, enable, and supply the criminal market with lethal weapons to which it would otherwise not have access, resulting in the foreseeable harm in this case,” the complaint states.
Daniel’s complaint takes aim at Radcliffe Haughton’s estate, Armslist LLC and three of its purported founders, plus Linn, the Cedarburg man who allegedly sold Haughton the murder weapon.
She alleges wrongful death, negligence, assault, conspiracy and other claims.
Daniel’s attorney Patrick Dunphy also represented the police officers in the Badger Guns trial that ended last week. Dunphy is joined by the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Legal Action Project and New York-based firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.
Dunphy did not immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment. With no phone number available for Armslist.com on its website, the business has not returned an email seeking comment.
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