Wisconsin SCOTUS Rules Armslist is Not Liable for Shooters Actions


    Armslist Not Liable for Illegal Weapons Purchase

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s decision that Armslist’s ads and tools are protected by the Communications Decency Act (CDA). Therefore, Armslist is not Liable for the illegal actions of its users. Armslist facilitates communication between willing firearm sellers and buyers, Armslist does NOT sell firearms to its users. This is in response to a weapon that was purchased using the site in October of 2012.

    The criminal had recently been separated from his wife, who filed a restraining order against her husband. The restraining order had been granted on October 18th just two days before this man would murder his estranged wife and two other women.

    Armslist is Not Liable

    Armslist is not liable for illegal purchase or sale of weapons

    From court records, the perpetrator purchased the gun from a private party, instead of trying to purchase it at a federally licensed dealer. He placed an ad to purchase a gun on 20 October. The ad was answered and he purchased a Glock .40 caliber pistol the same day, from a private party. The next day, on the morning of 21 October, he murdered his wife and two other women, wounding others, then killing himself.

    If the Lawsuit had succeeded, it would have effectively ended Armslist.com and websites like it.

    Armslist is Not Liable for Illegal activity of its users

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court decision recognizes the intent and purpose of the CDA. The court explains the CDA does not have a “good faith” requirement. Daniel v. Armslist,  courthousenews.com:

    Armslist is Not Liable for Illegal Weapons Purchase

    Armslist is Not Liable for the Illegal actions

    ¶37 One obvious problem with Daniel’s argument is that § 230(c)(1) contains no good faith requirement. Therefore, the issue is not whether Armslist knew, or should have known, that its site would be used by third parties for illegal purposes. Instead, the issue is whether Armslist was an information content provider with respect to Linn’s advertisement. Armslist.com’s provision of an advertising forum and the related search functions are all “neutral tools” that can be used for lawful purposes. Sales of firearms by private sellers are lawful in Wisconsin. Further, private sellers in Wisconsin are not required to conduct background checks, and private sales are not subject to any mandatory waiting period. Accordingly, the option to search for offers from private sellers is a tool that may be used for lawful purposes.

    Armslist is not liable

    It is hard to determine if the criminal would have been stopped from murdering his wife and the two other women if he had been unable to obtain a firearm. Even though he was a prohibited person, there have been cases where those with a criminal record have not been listed on the NICS databases right away.

    It is possible, maybe even likely that he could have purchased a firearm through some other means or used an entirely different weapon to perpetrate the attack. While the circumstances are grim, this example can be taken with a ray of hope that courts are upholding our constitutional rights despite the actions of a criminal.


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