U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review Denial of Website Liability for Illegal Gun Sale

In 2012, a shooting at a beauty salon in Wisconsin resulted in the deaths of four people, including the shooter and his wife. Four other victims suffered injuries. The daughter of one of the women who died in the tragic incident sued under Wisconsin law. Instead of suing an individual, however, she sued the website on which the perpetrator had illegally bought the gun.

This website was Armslist.com, operated by Armslist, LLC. The website allows people who want to buy guns (or related items) to contact people who want to sell them. Armslist allows sellers to post ads for guns, and it allows buyers to contact sellers directly rather than regulating their interactions.

Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Supreme Court determined that Armslist was protected by a federal law that forecloses the liability of website operators for content posted by users. Thus, it dismissed the claims of the daughter against the website. The daughter appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Last week, the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal, leaving the decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in place. This outcome narrows the legal options available to victims of shootings and their families. It also facilitates the purchase and sale of firearms among individual buyers and sellers.

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