Kansas City has reached a settlement with one of the gun dealers it accused in a lawsuit of contributing to surging violence in the region by ignoring evidence that firearms were being sold illegally.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a statement Wednesday that the settlement is “an important step in reducing the flow of illegal guns into our city.”
The lawsuit filed in 2020 alleged that gun trafficking creates a public nuisance in Kansas City, which has one of the highest homicide rates in the U.S.
The city was joined in the lawsuit by gun safety advocates Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, which touted the suit as the first of its kind against the gun industry in more than a decade.
Under the settlement, CR Sales Firearms in Independence will be required to pay $150,000 in damages to the city. It also will face extra monitoring and be required to train staff on how to identify a straw purchase, which is when someone who can legally purchase a gun buys one to sell it to someone who can’t legally possess guns.
Online court records show that the store was dismissed from the suit Friday. Under the settlement, the shop denies the allegations and makes no admission of liability. An attorney for the store has not responded to a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.
According to the suit, the gun trafficking ringleader was James Samuels, a former Kansas City firefighter who has been sentenced to six years in federal prison for illegally selling guns.
The lawsuit also alleges that Nevada-based gun manufacturer Jimenez Arms, several local gun dealers and individuals illegally sold or transferred guns to Samuels without doing background checks or determining if the buyers had licenses to carry guns. The companies ignored obvious evidence that Samuels was breaking federal gun laws, according to the lawsuit.
Jimenez Arms filed for bankruptcy but then rebranded itself as JA Industries before federal officials revoked its license last year.
Two other gun dealers also were named in the suit. One agreed to relinquish its federal firearms license, and the second is no longer in business, Everytown said.
“Guns used in crimes often make their way from the legal market to the illegal market via gun trafficking and straw-purchasing,” said Alla Lefkowitz, of Everytown Law, a team of litigation lawyers for Everytown for Gun Safety. “The industry has an important role to play in preventing such diversion.”