Update 4:15 P.M., Tuesday, June 30: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that Judge Matsch ordered the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence to pay the defendants' legal fees in this case. In fact, Judge Matsch ordered the plaintiffs in the suit, Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, to pay the fees. Although the Brady Center has publicly described the lawsuit as their own, Lucky Gunner has vowed to recover their fees from the Brady Center, and Judge Matsch addressed the Brady Center's involvement in his opinion, the Brady Center is not named as a plaintiff in the order. We regret the error.
A federal judge has ordered that the plaintiffs in a lawsuit targeting an online ammunition dealer over the Aurora movie theater shooting pay the legal fees of the companies they sued.
The order, which was issued last week, comes after Judge Richard P. Matsch dismissed the gun control group's suit that sought to hold Lucky Gunner legally responsible for the 2012 shooting. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence—which supported the plaintiffs, Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter was killed in the Aurora shooting—had argued that the way Lucky Gunner sells ammunition is "unreasonably dangerous and create a public nuisance."
"A crazed, homicidal killer should not be able to amass a military arsenal, without showing his face or answering a single question, with the simple click of a mouse," Brady Center’s Legal Action Project Director Jonathan Lowy said at the time. "If businesses choose to sell military-grade equipment online, they must screen purchasers to prevent arming people like James Holmes."
Judge Matsch disagreed with the Brady Center's argument. He said the suit was filed for propaganda purposes. "It is apparent that this case was filed to pursue the political purposes of the Brady Center and, given the failure to present any cognizable legal claim, bringing these defendants into the Colorado court where the prosecution of James Holmes was proceeding appears to be more of an opportunity to propagandize the public and stigmatize the defendants than to obtain a court order," he said in his order.
Lucky Gunner praised the court's decision and vowed to do everything in its power to recover the money awarded to it by the ruling.
"The federal judge on the case ruled it was apparent that this suit was filed to pursue the Brady Center’s ‘political purposes' and was used as an ‘opportunity to propagandize the public,'" Lucky Gunner spokesman Anthony Welsch said. "Lucky Gunner agrees with the court's assessment and continues to do all it can to hold the Brady Center accountable for legal fees awarded in the case."
The company said it would donate that money to a number of gun rights groups and has set up a website to allow its customers to vote on how to distribute the funds.
"Any legal fees Lucky Gunner recovers will be given to 2nd Amendment supporting organizations as voted on by the shooting community," Welsch said.
The case is now pending appeal.
The Brady Center did not respond to a request for comment.