Kansas City is the First in the U.S. to File a Lawsuit Against the Gun Industry in More than 10 Years
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – During a press conference today with Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced that the City has filed a public nuisance lawsuit against Jimenez Arms, Inc., a Nevada gun manufacturer, multiple current or former Kansas City-area licensed firearms dealers, an alleged gun trafficker, and an alleged straw purchaser over the trafficking of handguns into the Kansas City area. The City is represented by attorneys from Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, Williams Dirks Dameron LLC of Kansas City, Missouri, and the City Attorney’s office.
The first city to file a lawsuit against the gun industry in more than 10 years, the City alleges in the suit that gun trafficking has created a public nuisance by contributing to the violent crime epidemic in Kansas City. The City seeks reimbursement for the costs of dealing with violent crime traceable to the trafficking ring, and seeks an order requiring the defendants to recover firearms that are still in circulation.
“Today’s definitive action by the City of Kansas City and Everytown Law signals that our community will not look the other way when it comes to illegal gun trafficking,” said Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas. “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.”
Kansas City has one of the highest homicide-per-capita rates in the United States. In 2019, a firearm was involved in 95 percent of all homicides, and handguns were the firearm most frequently used. Jimenez Arms guns, which all of the defendants are alleged to have illegally distributed, have been frequently and disproportionately recovered at crime scenes in the Kansas City region.
“Gun dealers and manufacturers have a legal responsibility not to ignore suspicious purchasing behaviors that indicate illegal gun trafficking or straw purchasing,” said Alla Lefkowitz, Director of Affirmative Litigation for Everytown Law. “This lawsuit should send a clear message to companies that choose to profit off illegal gun sales: you will be held accountable.”
The lawsuit names as defendants gun manufacturer Jimenez Arms Inc., Herb William Butzbach III, doing business as Mission Ready Gunworks, located in North Kansas City, Suzette Nelson, previously doing business as Conceal & Carry, formerly located in Kansas City, CR Sales Firearms LLC, located in Raytown, James Samuels, and Iesha Boles.
The case stems from a five-year trafficking ring, alleged to have been orchestrated by former Kansas City firefighter, James Samuels. It is alleged that, from 2013-2018, Samuels trafficked at least 77 firearms into the Kansas City region, including 57 firearms manufactured and distributed by Jimenez Arms. This lawsuit alleges that Jimenez Arms aided and abetted the trafficking ring by selling 32 firearms to Samuels despite knowing, or ignoring clear signs, that Samuels was dealing in firearms without a license. The suit alleges that, in some cases, Jimenez Arms even shipped guns directly to Samuels’ home without a background check. The lawsuit also alleges that the gun-dealer defendants aided and abetted the ring by facilitating the illegal transfer of dozens of guns to and from Samuels, including through obvious straw purchases.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri has charged Samuels with 14 counts related to his trafficking in firearms. He has pled not guilty. The charges are accusations, and Samuels is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Boles has pled guilty to conspiracy to make false statements during the purchase of firearms and is awaiting sentencing.
As part of the relief sought in today’s lawsuit, Kansas City is asking the court to order Jimenez Arms and the firearm dealer defendants to:
- Take corrective action to identify and recover trafficked firearms;
- Comply with state and federal firearms laws;
- Submit to five years of supervision by a court-appointed monitor, including observation and repeated integrity-testing;
- and require all personnel to undergo mandatory training by a court-approved training entity.