The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has been in an ongoing legal battle for years now trying to sue Lucky Gunner, an ammunition supplier, and hold them responsible for James Holmes shooting up the Aurora movie theater. How they managed that mental leap was always a bit of a mystery, but they’ve been able to tie up Lucky Gunner in court for quite a while over it. This week a judge had apparently heard enough and declared the action to be little more than a publicity stunt and a nuisance suit, ordering the Brady Center to pay the company’s legal fees. (From the Washington Times)

A federal judge has ordered the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence pay the legal fees of an online ammunition dealer it sued for the Aurora movie theater shooting.

The order, which was issued last week, comes after Judge Richard P. Matsch dismissed the gun control group’s suit that sought to hold Lucky Gunner legally responsible for the 2012 shooting. The Brady Center had argued in their suit that the way Lucky Gunner sells ammunition is “unreasonably dangerous and create a public nuisance.”…

Judge Matsch disagreed with the Brady Center’s argument. He said the suit was filed for propaganda purposes. “It is apparent that this case was filed to pursue the political purposes of the Brady Center and, given the failure to present any cognizable legal claim, bringing these defendants into the Colorado court where the prosecution of James Holmes was proceeding appears to be more of an opportunity to propagandize the public and stigmatize the defendants than to obtain a court order,”

This was always going to be a low percentage case for the Brady Center even if it had been more than a stunt intended to financially damage an ammunition dealer. There’s a bit of history in the government on this subject, particularly in light of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

Prohibits a qualified civil liability action from being brought in any state or federal court against a manufacturer or seller of a firearm, ammunition, or a component of a firearm that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, or against a trade association of such manufacturers or sellers, for damages, punitive damages, injunctive or declaratory relief, abatement, restitution, fines, penalties, or other relief resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a firearm.

When that bill was being debated, even proponents were willing to make a number of exceptions to the protections they wanted to extend to manufacturers and distributors. People who suffered direct injury would still be able to file suit against a dealer who knowingly sold weapons or ammo to someone for the purpose of committing a crime of violence or a drug trafficking. People could similarly sue if the dealer was found to have violated state or local laws as part of the sale. But none of those conditions applied to Holmes, so it’s unclear how the Brady Center thought they were going prevail.

Seeing them lose the case isn’t too much of a shocker, but being ordered to pay the legal fees of the subject of their courtroom attack is a surprise. If that holds it may send a powerful message to other groups (including those of Mayor Bloomberg) and have them thinking twice before trying to do an end run around the Second Amendment and attack firearms manufacturers through the courts. Of course, this case may still get kicked further up the chain so there are no assurances yet, but it’s a good start.