Kansas City, MO — Today, the City of Kansas City and Everytown Law announced an agreement to settle the City’s lawsuit against a local gun shop. In that lawsuit, which was scheduled for trial this year, the City alleged that the gun shop facilitated a number of handgun transfers on behalf of James Samuels, who was convicted of gun trafficking. The City is represented by Everytown Law, Williams Dirks Dameron, LLC, and the Office of the City Attorney of Kansas City.
Under the settlement, the City and the gun shop have agreed to establish and enforce a set of written policies that the parties hope will be a template in the prevention of trafficking and straw-purchasing of firearms. The template includes:
- The creation of an annual training for staff conducted by an outside consultant;
- Maintaining video recording of all gun transfers for three months;
- Verifying transfer documents to determine whether a customer may be engaged in the repeat buying and selling of firearms; and
- Imposing a maximum for monthly handgun purchases for any new customers.
The City and the gun shop have also agreed to implement a five-year verification program, under which an independent monitor will review and verify that the elements of the jointly developed template are being followed. As part of the settlement, the gun shop expressly denies all allegations in the lawsuit and makes no admission of liability of violation of any law or regulation.
“Today’s settlement is an important step in reducing the flow of illegal guns into our city,” said Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas. “As we work to save the lives of Kansas Citians—fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, grandparents, and sadly, children—reducing the flow of illegal guns will remain a priority.”
“Gun stores have the ability to save lives by enforcing strong policies and procedures to prevent gun trafficking,” said Alla Lefkowitz, Senior Director of Affirmative Litigation at Everytown Law. “Guns used in crimes often make their way from the legal market to the illegal market via gun trafficking and straw-purchasing. The industry has an important role to play in preventing such diversion. We’re pleased that the City and the gun shop have settled this case in a way that will prevent illegal gun purchases and gun trafficking.”
The lawsuit was filed in January 2020. It was the first public nuisance lawsuit brought by a city since the passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), the federal law passed in 2005 that gave the gun industry immunity from most civil lawsuits. Among the other defendants named were Nevada-based gun manufacturer Jimenez Arms and Missouri-based gun store Mission Ready. The City alleged that these defendants also facilitated the trafficking ring organized by James Samuels, by transferring firearms to him despite knowing that he was selling these guns for profit.
Since the filing of this lawsuit, the owner of Mission Ready has agreed to surrender his license to sell firearms. In addition, Jimenez Arms filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2020. Shortly thereafter, the owner of Jimenez Arms acquired a license to start a new gun manufacturing company, which he named J.A. Industries. In response, Kansas City, joined by Everytown for Gun Safety and the State of Illinois, filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for granting J.A. Industries a license, and in March 2022, in a first-of-its-kind victory for gun safety, ATF issued a notice of license revocation to the manufacturer.
Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, and the law firm of Williams Dirks Dameron, LLC, along with the Office of the City Attorney of Kansas City represent the City of Kansas City. The Everytown Law team representing the City of Kansas City includes Alla Lefkowitz, Senior Director of Affirmative Litigation; Len Hong Kamdang, Director of Litigation Strategy and Trials; Molly Thomas-Jensen, Deputy Director, Affirmative Litigation; Aaron Esty, Senior Counsel; Ryan Gerber, Counsel; Eugene Nam, Racial Justice Fellow. The case is City of Kansas City, Missouri v. Jimenez Arms, et. al., Case No. 2016-cv00829 (Jackson County, Missouri).