Chicago Sues Indiana Gun Shop Over Illegal Guns

Chicago Sues Indiana Gun Shop Over Illegal Guns

CHICAGO—The city of Chicago filed a lawsuit Monday against an Indiana gun shop it says is responsible for the flow of hundreds and possibly thousands of guns into the nation’s third-largest city, making it one of the largest out-of-state sellers of guns used in crimes here.

The lawsuit against Westforth Sports Inc. of Gary, Ind., is seeking the appointment of a special master to oversee the store’s operations and assure that it abides by federal gun laws for a period of five years, as well as monetary damages.

“These eye-popping numbers are not the result of bad luck or coincidence or location,” the lawsuit says. “They are the natural and predictable outcome of a business model that ignores the federal laws and regulations that are intended to keep the public safe.”

Earl Westforth,

president of the store, declined to comment.

“This lawsuit is about addressing a major source of illegal guns recovered in our city, and it should send an unmistakable signal about our commitment to reducing gun violence and stopping gun trafficking,” Mayor

Lori Lightfoot

said.

The issue has received renewed attention in the city after the shooting by police late last month of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who had been carrying a gun until the moment before he was shot. Mayor Lightfoot said at the time that the city recovers more guns every year than New York and Los Angeles combined.

The lawsuit says Westforth has been repeatedly cited by federal officials for allowing straw purchases, or purchases of guns intended for sale to third parties who couldn’t legally possess them. It cites years of audit data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, detailing repeated violations and two recommendations to revoke the store’s license.

The city was joined in the lawsuit by Everytown Law, the legal arm for Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, a group that seeks solutions to end gun violence.

“The ATF really needs to do its own investigation, and if they find willful violations they need to take stronger actions than they have because what they have done so far hasn’t worked,”

Alla Lefkowitz,

director of affirmative litigation for Everytown Law, said in an interview. “And when I say take stronger actions that could go up to revoking the license of Westforth.”

The ATF didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit says that Westforth has routinely ignored the signs of illegal sales including high volume, repetitive and multiple-sale transactions involving duplicate or near-duplicate firearms.

It cites several examples of people facing federal charges who made multiple purchases from Westforth of guns that they later sold to other buyers, including those with criminal histories that forbid them to own guns.

Write to Joe Barrett at joseph.barrett@wsj.com

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Source: WSJ – US News

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