Gun control advocates will try to hold a website that facilitates arms sales legally responsible for the murder of a sixth grade teacher in Oak Brook.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence recently filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Armslist LLC on behalf of the family of Jitka Vesel, who was shot to death in 2011.
The filing comes shortly after a federal appeals court ruling striking down a state law banning the carrying of concealed weapons.
Gun control advocates say that firearms are increasingly being sold online to those not legally permitted to own them and rampant abuse has led online retail leaders like Amazon and eBay to ban arms sales on their websites.
Armslist.com carries classified advertisements for the purchase and sale of guns and ammo. Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project, said the man who murdered Vesel purchased the handgun used in the crime from a gun dealer advertising on Armslist.com.
The website has a disclaimer urging buyers and sellers to comply with all applicable laws and states that the company “does not become involved in transactions between parties.”
Experts say that the lawsuit is the first ever against an arms website for its role in a shooting death. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.
Dmitry Smirnov, an immigrant from Russia who lived in British Columbia, was convicted of murdering Vesel and is currently serving a sentence of life in prison without parole. The lawsuit says that after contacting a Seattle gun dealer through Armslist.com, Smirnov traveled to Seattle to purchase the .40-caliber handgun before heading to Chicago. The Seattle man who sold Smirnov the weapon received a 14-month prison sentence for illegally selling a firearm to a non-U.S. citizen.