We Lost Our Daughter to a Mass Shooter and Now Owe $203,000 to His Ammo Dealer

Huffington Post – by Lonnie and Sandy Phillips

We have been getting a lot of questions about our lawsuit against Lucky Gunner, the online company that sold ammunition to the man who murdered our daughter Jessica along with 11 others in an Aurora, Colorado, theater. Especially after the Rachel Maddow Show covered us twice, people ask us about the judge’s order that we pay Lucky Gunner’s attorneys’ fees, since our lawsuit was unsuccessful.  

We brought our lawsuit because we thought it was outrageous that companies could sell a dangerous man an arsenal without getting any information about him, and without making any effort to see if he was a dangerous killer — which he was. When the killer had left a voicemail with a shooting range, the range operator knew that he was bad news and shouldn’t be given access to guns. But these companies set up their business so people just like this killer can arm themselves at the click of a mouse. We wanted to change that. And we still do.

Attorneys at Arnold and Porter and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence brought the lawsuit for us, pro bono. We knew the risks of bringing the case. We knew that Colorado and Congress have given special protection of the gun industry, and we knew that under Colorado law we could even be ordered to pay attorneys’ fees because of those special protections.

But we thought it was important to take a stand, to fight to prevent other families from suffering as we have. We did not seek any money in our case. We just wanted injunctive relief — to have these companies act reasonably when they sold dangerous materiel, like 100-round ammunition magazines, ammunition, body armor, and tear gas.

The judge dismissed our case because, he said, these online sellers had special immunity from the general duty to use reasonable care under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and a Colorado immunity law. If you couple the PLCAA law with Colorado’s law HB 000-208, (which says in essence: If you bring a civil case against a gun or ammunition seller and the case is dismissed then the plaintiff must pay all the defendant’s costs), you have an impenetrable barrier to using the judicial system to effect change in gun legislation in Colorado.

Everyone else in society has a duty to use reasonable care to not injure others — except gun and ammunition sellers.

To make matters worse, the judge ordered that we pay $203,000. This is an outrageous amount, especially given that this case was decided after one single motion! Lucky Gunner has said that it is going to donate all these fees to “gun rights” groups. The thought is disgusting to us that Lucky Gunner does not even plan to use this money to pay for their attorney’s fees.

Lucky Gunner wants to use blood money to fund the NRA and like-minded groups. See for yourself. Check out Lucky Gunner’s self-serving description of our case then click on “Head Here” (the green words at the end of Lucky Gunner’s last sentence) to find out how the money is to be distributed.

The law says we are responsible for these fees, which we recognize. We do not have the money to pay this amount. The Judge insinuated in his order that Brady should pay since he said they were the instigators. If this was a ploy designed to give the appearance that Brady was responsible and turn us against each other, it did not work.

Brady is still fighting for us pro bono and we see no evidence that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence will not help us raise funds if and when that time comes.

We believe that the judge’s decision was wrong, and that it is unconstitutional to financially punish people for bringing a lawsuit, especially a public interest case that did not seek a dime. But rather than risk possibly being ordered to pay even more fees, we are changing our focus from going after these laws in the judicial branch (we have dropped our appeal) to getting them overturned on the legislative level.

We have brought attorney Dan Wartell with the law firm Jones & Keller into our team who is also helping us.

We hope that we are spearheading a movement to expose these egregious and unconstitutional laws for what they really are. They are an attack on our civil liberties. With these laws in place ordinary citizens are effectively barred by the exorbitant cost from bringing any civil action against sellers of firearms and ammunition.

It is un-American and outrageous that these special laws can deny us our day in court simply because we were victimized by the gun industry. Our lawsuit was not frivolous. Our Jessi was shot multiple times with high-velocity, armor-piercing bullets that were designed by our military to inflict maximum damage on enemy combatants.

One of the six, steel-jacketed bullets that killed her slammed through a theater seat, entered her left eye and left a five-inch hole in her face as it blew her brains out on to the theater floor. The other five specially designed bullets tumbled when they tore through her flesh and did devastating damage to both legs, arms and intestines.

Those bullets were six of 4,000 that Lucky Gunner sold to a mass murderer in one sale without even checking his driver’s license.

Why is there a law that says you cannot sue an ammunitions dealer that allowed 4,000 rounds of armor-piercing bullets into the wrong hands?

How else are we as citizens going to get them to stop doing that?

No other industry has this immunity.

The horrific and public execution of our daughter Jessi and 11 other beautiful young lives has given us a brief window of opportunity to bring awareness to the number one public health crisis facing this nation today which is rampant gun violence. It is unfathomable to me that the billion dollar gun lobby can intimidate our Congress and some state legislatures into passing laws that give the gun industry immunity against irresponsible acts that enables them to arm, and profit from, domestic terrorists, and other killers.

It is abhorrent to us as the parents of a child who has been killed by a person with outwardly obvious mental issues who was able to easily access a one hundred round magazine and 4,000 rounds of armor-piercing bullets online without a valid ID.

Who is our last line of defense that makes that conscious decision to not ask for ID before selling large orders of lethal, military-grade armament? Online sellers, knowing they are shielded by immunity laws, refuse to put into place even minimal safeguards that would save lives. That is abhorrent to us.

One of the ways that we can level the playing field is to create precedents in our court rooms that make gun and ammunition dealers pay a price for conduct that contributes to gun violence. Another way is to lobby our state and federal legislators to repeal these laws. That is our objective.

We are calling on the citizens of this country and the gun violence prevention community to stand ready to help us get in the face of state and national legislators. Join us in helping to get the word out to the American citizens who are not aware of how these laws take away the rights of victims of gun violence.

_______________

Lonnie and Sandy Phillips’ daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was murdered in the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre in 2012. Since then, they have become advocates for common-sense gun laws in America. Their non-profit, Jessi’s Message, allows them to take their trailer and travel the country telling their story and working with fellow victims and survivors of violence.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lonnie-and-sandy-phillips/lucky-gunner-lawsuit_b_8197804.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

26 thoughts on “We Lost Our Daughter to a Mass Shooter and Now Owe $203,000 to His Ammo Dealer

  1. Although, it was wrong for the loss of her Daughter, she shouldn’t have had the Liberal mindset to sue the wrong people. Does anyone sue a store that sold cigarettes to someone who got Lung Cancer?
    When are these people going to learn, that Guns don’t kill People, People kill People. I have several and not a single one has gone off by its self…wait, let me check……yes, still loaded, just like I left them.

  2. Cry me a river mofos!!! Pay up. You would’ve wanted your money if a corrupt judge would’ve granted you your little in the limelight. Now piss off and find another job or something. Or maybe pimp your wife. Since you are acting like whores anyway.

  3. “We brought our lawsuit because we thought it was outrageous that companies could sell a dangerous man an arsenal without getting any information about him, and without making any effort to see if he was a dangerous killer — which he was.”

    WRONG!!!

    You brought your lawsuit because you are MORONS who are TOO STUPID to understand that the SO-CALLED ‘GOVERNMENT’ was behind the entire incident, for the express purpose of grabbing our guns.

    The other possibility is You’re in on the scheme, and this is merely more bullsh#t to reinforce the lie. If that’s the case, you’re scumbag communists that should be exterminated.

    Either way, you’re losers.

      1. No need, Robin. We & likely the majority of ftt readers, are of like mind.

        When I was a little kid, 2nd / 3rd grade, the kid across the streets dad “hates people” was what I was was told & heard a few times.

        Often, when I was very young, I wondered how does someone hate people.

        Did not take long for me to not only understand such a POV.

  4. When you file frivolous law suits
    That’s the risk you take , they knew the risks of a pro-Bono case , they signed on and knew the risks , they didn’t do enough homework to know that this would likely be the case
    Guess you should find a way to pay the blood suckers and quitcherbitchin

  5. The judge should have ordered them to also pay damages for defamation, the damage done to the companies most valuable asset…their name.

  6. Reading this woman’s obnoxious and ill-informed rant about how awful it is to live in a country where the population can defend it’s freedom makes me wish she were shot instead of her daughter, but of course, her daughter would have turned out just like her, so I’m glad she was killed before anyone had to listen to her.

    “No other industry has this immunity.”

    Actually, only the vaccine (pharmaceutical) industry has immunity from lawsuits. The fact of the matter is that the suit they filed is only an assault on constitutional rights, and free enterprise, and shouldn’t even have been allowed into the court. No one involved broke any laws, or violated anyone’s rights, and forcing the plaintiff to pay the defendant’s legal fees in these frivolous lawsuits is common practice.

  7. LOL what a show. Lucky gunner is a great place to buy ammo and the guy does a decent job on the blog too. If I didn’t live in joo yourk ID buy that’s hit up. And btw they have 1k pmc fmj bt for 3hungin. I hope business booms and I have the feeling it has begun many moons ago.

  8. Hey, they don’t call themselves “Lucky” for nothing. Sorry about your loss jackholes, but you wouldn’t sue the car dealership for selling someone a car that the buyer got into drunk and mowed down someone. This is no damned different, no matter how many ways you want to spin it. Bullets don’t load themselves into firearms and firearms don’t start shooting on their own. I hope you learned your lesson, all $203,000 FRNs worth.

    Oh yeah, ya gotta love how they phrase the title, “his ammo dealer”, like it’s fvcking crack cocaine. Azzholes at Huffington commie Post.

  9. I do pity them for losing their daughter, but do you know who else I pity? The countless millions of innocent people murdered by government thugs in the past century. Most of those massacres were made possible by “common-sense gun laws.”

    >>We knew the risks of bringing the case. We knew that Colorado and Congress have given special protection of the gun industry, and we knew that under Colorado law we could even be ordered to pay attorneys’ fees because of those special protections.<>We hope that we are spearheading a movement to expose these egregious and unconstitutional laws for what they really are. They are an attack on our civil liberties. With these laws in place ordinary citizens are effectively barred by the exorbitant cost from bringing any civil action against sellers of firearms and ammunition.<>It is un-American and outrageous that these special laws can deny us our day in court simply because we were victimized by the gun industry.<>Our Jessi was shot multiple times with high-velocity, armor-piercing bullets that were designed by our military to inflict maximum damage on enemy combatants.<>It is abhorrent to us as the parents of a child who has been killed by a person with outwardly obvious mental issues who was able to easily access a one hundred round magazine and 4,000 rounds of armor-piercing bullets online without a valid ID.<<

    Some online ammo retailers actually do require a copy of your ID before they'll sell to you. I fail to see how this would prevent a crazy person from buying ammo. How can you tell that someone is a psycho or a violent criminal just by looking at his or her ID? How is mental illness "outwardly obvious" from an ID photo?

    Also, why it significant that 4,000 rounds were purchased in this incident? Would it have made a difference if only a few hundred rounds were purchased? (That's an amount some shooters can easily go through in a single day at the range.) How many rounds do these people think one person can carry at a time?

    For people who really like to throw around terms like "common sense" and "reasonable," gun control advocates sure aren't very rational.

    1. One of these really works much better for me, how about you?

      A) It is easy for the ‘enlightened’ to sound knowledgeable and righteous when they speak on things they know so much about.

      B) It is easy for the ‘pompous liberty hating douche-bags’ to sound ill-informed and self-righteous when they pontificate on things of which they only know what they were indoctrinated [brainwashed] to know.

  10. Here is a golden opportunity for the SPLC to gain some badly needed, positive publicity. Let them step up to the plate and pay Lucky Gunner the $204,000 owed by the family.. What are the chances?

  11. “We knew the risks going in” So if you go boating without a Life Jacket and the Boat sinks and someone dies is the Boat Seller liable? You ride a motorcycle without a helmet and crash having massive brain injury is the Motorcycle Dealer Liable? I could go on and on but STUPID People will not understand!!

  12. “we knew that under Colorado law we could even be ordered to pay attorneys’ fees….’

    whaaaaaa! Booohooohoooo! Go sue the US Forest Service for allowing people on OUR forest lands where they could pick up a club and kill some left piece of garbage.

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