Tuesday, July 21, 2015


            Just when you think the gun manufacturers and National Rifle Association (NRA) have sunk about as low as they can go, they come up with something even more outrageous: Make victims families pay court costs of any legal action.

The gun makers and NRA have long engaged in nefarious lobbying activity that has undercut public safety, now they have persuaded politicians to adopt laws making the victims of gun violence pay the legal fees for challenging their sacrosanct position in society.

In September 2014, the Brady Center announced a lawsuit on behalf of Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, accusing Web site companies of negligence for selling weapons to the Aurora, Colorado theater shooter, James Holmes. The Phillips daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was killed in the shooting. The lawsuit charges the companies with negligence for selling weaponry (including ammunition, body armor, tear gas and other equipment used in this assault) to someone as obviously unstable as Holmes. Holmes ended up killing 12 and wounding 70 others on July 20, 2012.

Senior U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch of the District of Colorado dismissed Sandy and Lonnie Phillips’ suit against four Web sites because Colorado and federal laws shield firearms and ammunition sellers from liability based on a customer’s wrongful acts. Phillips et al. v. Lucky Gunner LLC et al., No. 14–cv–02822, 2015 WL 1499382 (D. Colo. Mar. 27, 2015).

Both federal and Colorado laws protect gun makers and sellers from being held responsible for selling arms to people who are a danger to themselves and others, but Colorado has taken this outrage a step further, requiring plaintiffs to pay the court costs.

Lucky Gunner and Sportsman Guide (two of the companies selling to Holmes) have already filed motions for $220,000 in legal costs. According to press reports, another arms dealer, BTP Arms, wants another $33,000. BTP Arms request will probably fail because the law does not cover the two tear gas grenades Holmes bought from BTP Arms or the four pieces of body armor from bulletproofbodyarmorhq.com.

The Phillips lawsuit underscores not only this country’s lax gun laws, but the fact that U.S. laws protect gun makers and sellers, the average citizen has virtually no recourse against weapons manufacturers or the gun lobby.  



            I thought the news reports of Bastrop, Texas’ paranoia concerning the Obama Administration and the U.S. military coming to take their weapons was some sort of sick joke, but apparently it is not.

            The Bastrop Republican Party warned Texans to prepare for the U.S. government to take their weapons in connection with military exercises.  The U.S. military is preparing to conduct the largest multi-state exercises in its history. The exercises are taking place from July 15 to September 15.

The press quotes Albert Ellison, chairman of the Bastrop Republican Party, as saying the U.S. military’s exercise is part of an Obama Administration “plan to spy on them, confiscate their guns and ultimately establish martial law.”

            Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape has tried to reassure the county’s approximately 78,000 citizens that was not the case, telling them the exercise is routine. But his efforts were met with placards reading, “No Gestapo in Bastropo.”

            Has anyone told Albert Ellison and his friends that the U.S. government has heavy artillery, drones, and nuclear weapons? Really, they are coming after Bastrop, Texas? You are going to take rifles and pistols to a drone fight? And then there is the question of why would anyone, especially the U.S. government, care about Bastrop, Texas in the first place? The President and Washington politicians have to worry about al Qa’ida, ISIL, the Greek financial crisis, drug trafficking, growing strains with Russia, closing the earnings gap in this country, and a truck load of other major economic and political problems. Is Ellison telling people that President Obama and politicians in Washington have put all those problems on the back burner so they can concentrate on Bastrop, Texas?  

            Just how paranoid are you Albert Ellison? How many enemies do you have that you and your friends have to arm yourself to the teeth? It is not Washington you should be afraid of; it is your neighbors who appear to be hell-bent on living in an armed world of self-aggrandizing paranoia. The Bastrop Republican party appears to be powered by a bunch of 40-watt appliance bulbs—that is the real threat to public safety and individual citizen’s rights.

            Ellison and his Texas friends are walking advertisements for the importance of spending on better education and mental health care.