“First of its Kind” Lawsuit to be Filed in Cook County Against Gun Website

Forensic scienceOn April 13, 2011, Dmitry Smirnov shot and killed his former girlfriend, Jitka Vesel, with a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun. Mr. Smirnov found the gun advertised on a gun website called armslist.com. Armslist.com facilitates gun sales between buyers and sellers in all 50 states. While federally licensesd gun dealers are required by federal law to conduct background checks, private sellers do not have this duty. Furthermore, under federal law, private sellers must refuse potential buyers whom they believe are prohibited from purchasing a gun, because of a felony conviction or a mental illness.

Presently, Mr. Smirnov is serving a life sentence for the murder of Ms. Vesel. Mr. Smirnov had dated Ms. Vesel briefly, after meeting her while playing World of Warcraft, an online role playing game. When Ms. Vesel broke off the relationship and began seeing her previous boyfriend, Mr. Smirnov became enraged. Over two years later, Mr. Smirnov hunted her down and murdered her in the parking lot of her work. When asked why he killed her, he stated: “Because you can’t just expect to just dump someone like that and ignore them for two years and…to get away with it with no consequences and, you know, just waste someone’s life like that…”

Attorney for Ms. Vesel’s estate said that the lawsuit is the “first of its kind” against a gun website. It should be noted that the website does have a disclaimer that says: “Always comply with local, state, federal, and international law. ARMSLIST does not become involved in transactions between parties. Review our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE for more information. Report Illegal Firearms Activity to 1-800-ATF-GUNS.” Also, some sellers using the site have posted similar warnings.

Do you think that the website bears some responsibility in Ms. Vesel’s death, notwithstanding its disclaimer? I do.

If you need a personal injury lawyer, please call the law firm of Cary J. Wintroub & Associates at 312-726-1021, to learn how we can help you!

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