- In 2017, a gunman killed 25 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
- Families of the victims sued the gun store where the he purchased the weapon.
- The Texas Supreme Court dismissed the suit, citing a law that protects gun makers and retailers.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled the families of victims killed during a mass shooting cannot sue the gun store where the suspect purchased the weapon he used.
The lawsuit was brought in 2019, nearly two years after Devin Kelley gunned down 25 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, before killing himself after a chase. It was the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history.
Family members of the victims filed a lawsuit against Academy Sports & Outdoors, a sporting goods chain, where Kelley had purchased the AR-556 semi-automatic rifle, ammunition, and high-capacity magazine used in the shooting. The lawsuit argued the store wrongfully sold him the gun because he presented an ID from Colorado, where it’s illegal to sell high-capacity magazines.
After two lower courts declined to dismiss the case, Academy Sports appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, which ruled the lawsuit couldn’t go forward due to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects gun retailers and makers when their products are used to commit crimes.
The court also said the sale was legal despite Kelley’s Colorado ID. The US Gun Control Act required the retailer to comply with Colorado laws, but the court said it only applies to firearms, not the magazine.
Families of the victims are also suing the US Air Force. Kelley was convicted of domestic violence in a military court while serving in the Air Force. The Air Force later admitted it failed to divulge the conviction to the proper FBI crime database, which would have prevented Kelley from purchasing the weapon.
The Air Force said at the time it launched a review into how the records were handled.
Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at [email protected].