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Sat Apr 27, 2013, 02:29 PM

Brady Campaign Sues Mississippi Gun Dealer on Behalf of Family of Slain Chicago Police Officer, Vet

Brady Center Files Lawsuit against Gun Dealer, Purchaser, and Trafficker for Family of Thomas Wortham IV, Police Officer and Iraq War Veteran Killed with Straw Purchased Gun

Apr 24, 2013

Chicago, IL - The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence today is serving a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Thomas E. Wortham IV, who was murdered with a trafficked gun outside his parents’ home on May 19, 2010 in Chatham, Chicago. The suit is being filed against the gun dealer and traffickers who sold the gun used to kill him. The lawsuit will be filed today against Mississippi gun dealer Ed’s Pawn Shop and Salvage Yard, Michael Elliot, and Quawi Gates, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Oxford Division. The complaint alleges that Wortham was killed with a firearm illegally obtained in a straw purchase and trafficked from Mississippi to Chicago.

The Wortham family is represented by Jonathan Lowy, Director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence's Legal Action Project, and Richard Barrett and Don Barrett of The Barrett Law Group, P.A. of Lexington, MS. Mr. Lowy said, “Responsible gun sellers, like most Americans, recognize that guns should be sold with the greatest care, to prevent arming dangerous people with the means to kill. Gun sellers who choose to funnel guns into the hands of killers and criminals must be held accountable. Thomas Wortham served his nation with honor and courage, and he deserved far better. We as a nation should not tolerate irresponsible gun sellers who choose to profit from supplying killers and criminals with guns.

Key Facts About Suit

According to the complaint, on May 19, 2010, Thomas E. Wortham IV, a Chicago police officer and Iraq War veteran, was shot and killed by a group of gang members who were attempting to steal his motorcycle. The complaint alleges that the weapon used to kill Wortham was illegally purchased by Defendant Michael Elliot at Defendant Ed’s Pawn Shop and Salvage Yard (“Ed’s Pawn Shop”), owned and managed by Defendant Bruce E. Archer. The complaint includes eight counts against the defendants, including negligence and negligent entrustment by Defendant Ed’s Pawn Shop in the sale of handguns.

Mayor and Governor Statements About Wortham

Then-Chicago Mayor Richard Daley stated at Wortham’s funeral “the people of Chicago have lost a compassionate man, a community leader who touched many lives - worked tirelessly to make his neighborhood and his beat a better place to live.” Governor Quinn hailed Wortham as a role model for children, explaining that Wortham “had a servant's heart . . . [and] led an exemplary life – a purposeful life.” Media outlets including The Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune, ABC, CBS, and others provided extensive coverage of the shooting, funeral, and subsequent criminal investigation.

Additional Facts

Officer Wortham was shot and killed as he left his parents’ home in the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago, following a visit during which he showed his parents pictures from events he had recently attended at National Police Week, an annual gathering in New York and Washington, D.C. honoring law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. When Wortham approached his vehicle, a recently purchased motorcycle, two men emerged from a nearby car, brandished a handgun, and demanded he surrender the vehicle. Wortham alerted the men that he was a police officer and displayed his service weapon. A brief exchange of fire ensued. Meanwhile, Wortham’s father, retired police officer Thomas E. Wortham III, quickly retrieved his own weapon and opened fire on the assailants, fatally wounding one. However, Thomas Wortham IV was shot and killed by one of the surviving assailants, who quickly fled in their vehicle.

Officer Wortham was killed with a .45 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun that was purchased illegally by Defendant Elliot at the request of Defendant Gates, who paid $100 to Defendant Elliot for the straw purchase. Defendant Elliot served a six-month prison term for providing false information on a federal firearms form, namely in stating that he was the actual and intended buyer of the weapons he purchased. Defendant Gates, who was convicted of conducting many such straw purchases with the intent to traffic the weapons to Chicago, is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) routinely traces the history and movement of guns used in crimes like the murder of Thomas Wortham IV, identifying the manufacturer, distributor, and ultimately the dealer that sold the weapon in question. ATF data show that just over 1% percent of the nation’s licensed gun dealers supply 57% of the guns used in crimes (“crime guns”). Government data also show that the vast majority of dealers sell zero crime guns each year. These findings demonstrate that there is a small but active group of corrupt or negligent dealers who supply the criminal market with the firearms that are used to commit violent crimes in cities and towns across the country every day. Firearms dealers remain one of the most important channels for diverting firearms from the legal market to the illegal market.

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The mission of the Brady organization is to create a safer America for all of us that will lead to the dramatic reduction in gun deaths and injuries that we all seek.

Dan Gross is the President of the Brady Campaign and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. A photo and more information about Dan Gross is available here.

For more insight on gun violence prevention, follow The Brady Blog, Facebook Page and Twitter Account. Brady News Releases are available via RSS.

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http://www.bradycampaign.org/media/press/view/1582/


9 replies, 2383 views

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Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply Brady Campaign Sues Mississippi Gun Dealer on Behalf of Family of Slain Chicago Police Officer, Vet (Original post)
ellisonz Apr 2013 OP
billh58 Apr 2013 #1
freshwest Apr 2013 #2
supernaut Apr 2013 #3
ellisonz Apr 2013 #4
Travis_0004 Apr 2013 #6
billh58 Apr 2013 #7
Kingofalldems Apr 2013 #8
Cha Apr 2013 #5
jimmy the one Apr 2013 #9

Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 02:34 PM

1. K & R

It's time for many more law suits like this.

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Response to billh58 (Reply #1)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 02:46 PM

2. Yes, make the sellers think twice instead of being careless.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 02:47 PM

3. Interesting

 

that they choose to go after the gun dealer, rather than the person who made the straw purchase, who actually broke the law.

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Response to supernaut (Reply #3)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 02:49 PM

4. You can download the document in PDF:

2. Ed’s Pawn Shop and its employees knowingly or negligently violated federal and
state firearms laws and knew or should have known at the time of sale that the sale of the
handgun to Michael Elliot, a straw purchaser, was illegal, as Elliott was conspiring with a gun
trafficker. Federal and state firearms laws violated knowingly or negligently by the Defendants
include but are not limited to: 18 USC § 2, 18 USC § 371, 18 USC § 922(a)(6), 18 USC §
922(d)(1), 18 USC § 922(m), 18 USC § 924(a)(1)(A), MISS. CODE § 97-1-3, MISS. CODE § 97-
37-5, and MISS. CODE § 97-37-11.

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Response to ellisonz (Reply #4)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 04:20 PM

6. How should the gun store have known it was a straw purchase? Do they have ESP?

 

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Response to Travis_0004 (Reply #6)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 04:58 PM

7. Ah, the obligatory NRA

defense of the death merchants, and from a Gungeoneer. How refreshing...

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Response to Travis_0004 (Reply #6)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 06:07 PM

8. You just could not resist.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 03:45 PM

5. thanks ellisonz

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Sun Apr 28, 2013, 08:41 AM

9. nra in it's nutshell

travis: How should the gun store have known it was a straw purchase? Do they have ESP?

lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of the murdered Black Chicago police officer “accused the pawnshop of negligence for failing to recognize clues that the gun’s buyer was making an illegal purchase then blocking the sale… accusing its owner Bruce Edward Archer of failing to follow guidelines established by the gun industry’s trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, about how to detect a straw purchaser.” (Chicago Tribune, April 25th, 2013).

my source appears a rightwing website, but sorta backs into an acceptable position after a bit of sleaze talk. linked just for the above paragraph: http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2013/04/27/mississipi-gun-shops-blamed-for-chicago-black-murderers/comment-page-1/

A moot point now, but relevant to OP, the nra in it's nutshell: Mar15, 2013. As part of its blitzkrieg against post-Newtown gun control legislation, the {nra} is trying to kill the provision of the Senate bill that cracks down on gun trafficking by imposing harsher penalties for “straw purchases” — that’s when someone buys a gun for someone who is prohibited from owning one, or for someone who is intending to commit a crime with it. There is broad bipartisan support in both chambers for the measure, which would make straw purchasing a federal crime punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
.. But this week, the NRA is demanding that the Senate change its drafting language: If a person buys a gun and sells it to another person, who in turn sells it to yet another person, the bill’s language could be used to punish the initial buyer of the gun, the NRA says. “It potentially holds people liable for the intention of parties far down the chain of possession.." .. The NRA also wants to change language allowing the govt to confiscate a convicted straw purchaser’s guns and ammunition..

The NRA’s position has outraged those who support the legislation as written. Groups supporting stricter gun control laws, like Mayors Against Illegal Guns, believe cracking down on straw purchases — one of the most common ways criminals get guns — and background checks, another key component of the package, are essential parts of the new legislation.
“As long as straw purchasers are willing to buy on behalf of criminals, law enforcement needs effective tools to pursue these individuals by making this activity a federal criminal offense instead of a slap on the wrist,” said Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), one of five Republican co-sponsors of the House bill.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), one of the original sponsors of the House bill, told The Hill, “Reports about the draft NRA proposal suggest that it would water down even current law, making it harder — not easier — for law enforcement officials to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by increasing the threshold for convicting straw purchasers.”


Whee, since it wasn't 'watered down' as per nra wishes, did we win something by getting nothing accomplished? (on fed level)

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