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The lawsuit by the Missouri city is the first one a municipality has filed against the gun industry in over 10 years, officials say.
The city of Kansas City, Missouri has filed a public nuisance lawsuit against a Nevada-based gun manufacturer, firearms dealers and a number of individuals, alleging that they were involved in a scheme to traffic handguns into the city and surrounding area.
It’s the first time a U.S. city has filed a lawsuit against the gun industry in more than a decade, the city says. The lawsuit, filed in state court, alleges that a former Kansas City firefighter orchestrated the illegal trafficking of at least 77 guns into the region between 2013 and 2018.
These firearms, the city says, ended up at crime scenes involving drugs, domestic violence and murder.
Kansas City is seeking reimbursement for the costs of dealing with the violent crime tied to the alleged trafficking—like police, medical services and prosecutions, and a court order requiring the defendants in the case to recover any guns that are still in circulation.
Everytown Law, the litigation arm of advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, is helping provide legal representation for the city.
Mayor Quinton Lucas described gun trafficking as a significant public safety problem for the city.
Kansas City has experienced one of the highest per-capita homicide rates in the U.S. in recent years, according to the city’s court complaint. It cites statistics that show homicides in the city have been generally going up, rising to 148 in 2019 from 82 in 2014.
“As we continue working to end the violent crime epidemic in Kansas City, identifying and prosecuting those who illegally obtain or provide guns to those should not have them, as defined by law, will remain part of the solution,” the mayor said.
“We will look to be as creative as possible, both through legislation, through the courts, through any manner possible, to make sure our community is as safe as possible,” he added. “Nothing is off the table.”
James Samuels, the former fire department captain named in the city’s lawsuit, is also facing related federal firearms trafficking criminal charges. He has pleaded not guilty. A trial is pending.
Samuels and the gunmaker defendant in the city’s new lawsuit are also named in a separate suit brought by the parents of a 29-year-old man shot and killed with an allegedly trafficked gun in 2016. Everytown Law is also providing legal representation to the family in that case.
The gun manufacturer accused of wrongdoing in both cases is Jimenez Arms, located in Henderson, Nevada. Attempts to reach someone at the company by email and phone on Thursday were unsuccessful.
In the criminal case against Samuels, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said that Jimenez Arms pistols are frequently used by criminals because they can be purchased at low prices and sold illegally at a mark-up.
Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.