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Everytown Law Announces Important Victory in City of Philadelphia Lawsuit Against Gun Shops That Facilitate Illegal Straw Purchasing of Firearms


Lawsuit alleging that several firearms vendors have engaged in illegal straw purchasing transactions which have supplied Philadelphia’s crime gun market and perpetuated gun violence across the city will now proceed to discovery 

Philadelphia, PA – Everytown Law, along with co-counsel Kramer Levin and the City of Philadelphia Law Department, today announced an important pretrial victory in their suit filed on behalf of the City of Philadelphia, which alleges that several firearms dealers have recklessly and repeatedly engaged in straw purchasing transactions, fueling gun violence across the city. This week, the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County overruled two of the defendant gun stores’ preliminary objections–which sought to have the lawsuit dismissed–and permitted the cases against Frank’s Gun Shop & Shooting Range LLC and Mad Minute Enterprises, LLC d/b/a Delia’s Gun Shop to move forward. In its rulings, the court rejected these defendants’ arguments that the City’s lawsuit was preempted by Commonwealth law.

Update from March 25: Shortly after overruling two defendants’ preliminary objections, the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County also overruled the third defendant gun store’s preliminary objections–which sought to have the City’s lawsuit dismissed as “impertinent” and “scandalous.” This permits the case against WRT Management, Inc. (which formerly did business as Tanner’s Sports Center Inc. in Jamison, PA) to proceed to discovery as well. 

“We are gratified that the City’s case against gun dealers in connection with straw gun purchasing has been permitted to move forward through the legal process,” said Mayor Cherelle L. Parker. “We are doing everything in our power to prevent gun violence—and that includes using our courts to hold dealers accountable for their roles in fueling Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis. No one is above the law.” 

“Gun dealers have a legal responsibility not to ignore suspicious behavior that indicates illegal gun trafficking or straw purchasing,” said Alla Lefkowitz, Managing Director of Affirmative Litigation for Everytown Law. “Today’s decision should send a clear message to companies that choose to profit off sales to criminals: You will be held accountable.”

“The City looks forward to moving into discovery, and believes the facts in this case will show that the defendants violated the law by failing to comply with their legal obligations to prevent straw purchasing transactions. Their negligence has supplied Philadelphia’s crime gun market and perpetuated violence in our communities,” said Anne Taylor, Litigation Chair at the City of Philadelphia Law Department.

Two vendors located in Northeast Philadelphia, Frank’s Gun Shop & Shooting Range LLC and Delia’s Gun Shop, along with a third store WRT Management, Inc.—which formerly did business as Tanner’s Sports Center Inc. in Jamison, PA—are named in the City’s lawsuit. Jointly, these three vendors were the source of more than 1,300 crime guns recovered in Philadelphia from 2015-2019, the last years for which this data is publicly available.

The complaint cites criminal court filings which indicate that these defendants have collectively sold at least 158 guns to at least 32 straw purchasers between March 2018 and March 2022—often despite unmistakable indicators of illegal activity such as high volume, multiple-sale transactions involving duplicate or near-duplicate firearms, open collaboration between buyers and others in-store, and the presentation of false identification. These straw-purchased guns have been used in homicides and non-fatal shootings and continue to be recovered in Philadelphia in connection with violence and drug crimes. The straw-purchased weapons are often recovered from minors, individuals with felony convictions, and others prohibited from owning or buying a gun.

The City’s lawsuit aims to stop the defendant stores from continuing to facilitate straw purchasing transactions and to require them to adopt written policies to prevent further straw purchasing. Additionally, the City is seeking damages to address the harms caused by gun violence in our communities and facilitated by the defendants’ illegal sales.

More information about the lawsuit, including the court’s decisions, can be found here