The homepage of Armslist in December, 2021
The homepage of Armslist in December, 2021 / Stephen Gutowski

Latest Lawsuit Against Online Gun Marketplace Dismissed

A judge has tossed another lawsuit attempting to impose special liability on the online firearms marketplace Armslist.

A Massachusetts state court dismissed a lawsuit against the company on Friday. The suit attempted to hold the site liable for a gun sale through a listing it hosted in New Hampshire. The buyer ultimately used the gun to shoot a Boston police officer. The judge found that the suit lacked jurisdictional grounds to proceed.

“Here, Armslist’s activities in Massachusetts were completely unrelated and extraneous to the sale between Johnson and McNamara in New Hampshire and the shooting that occurred thereafter,” Judge Janet L. Saunders wrote in her dismissal order. “The claims against Armslist are hereby dismissed, with prejudice.”

The order marks the third time a lawsuit against Armslist has been dismissed in the last two months. The company has been a consistent target for lawsuits accusing the site of facilitating transactions in guns that end up being used in crime. However, multiple state courts have found the site is entitled to immunity under Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act.

Democratic Senators have introduced legislation to strip Section 230 protections for Armslist and other sites that operate as online firearms marketplaces. Even though the bill’s chances of success are relatively low in a divided Senate, lawsuits challenging the site’s liability protections under current law continue apace.

In 2018, the gun-control group Brady United launched the case on behalf of Kurt Stokinger, the injured Boston police officer. A March 2020 ruling from a separate Massachusetts state court judge dismissed the suit after ruling that Armslist was entitled to civil immunity.

“The court concludes that Armslist is not an information content provider, and that the Stokingers’ claims are based on complaints about posted content created or developed by a third-party,” Superior Court Justice Heidi Brieger said in the 2020 dismissal. “Armslist is thus entitled to immunity under the CDA, and the Stokingers’ claims must be dismissed.”

Armslist later filed a motion to have the case partially reconsidered in order to have the question of jurisdiction decided before any future litigation at the appellate level. Here the judge found that because Armslist is not a Massachusetts-based business, and because the sale in question occurred outside the state, the suit failed on jurisdiction grounds as well.

“The only link Armslist has to Officer Stokinger’s injury is that the gun that caused his injury was posted by McNamara on armslist.com and that as a result of the posting, he sold the gun in New Hampshire to Johnson, a New Hampshire resident,” Justice Brieger said in the order.

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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