Guns

Wisconsin Armslist Decision Undermines Web Site Protections Way Beyond Gun Sales

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals let a case against gun-sales advertising site Armslist go forward -- and in the process undermined 47 U.S.C. § 230 protection for a wide range of web sites.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

A very important decision (Daniel v. Armslist, Inc.), but I'm too slammed to discuss it in detail—fortunately, Prof. Eric Goldman (Technology & Marketing Law Blog), who is one of the top experts on § 230 immunity, has a thorough analysis. (Recall that § 230 is what lets this site function without fear of liability for allegedly libelous, privacy-invading, or negligently dangerous material posted by commenters, what lets Yelp function without fear of liability for similarly tortious reviews posted by its users, and what lets Google function without fear of liability for tortious material on sites that it searches. Nothing in § 230 is gun-specific or even advertising-specific, so any decision that allows liability against a gun ad site could allow liability against sites that are supposedly designed in ways that facilitate libel, or a wide range of other tortious behavior.)

Some excerpts:

The case relates to a shooting in the Milwaukee area that killed four people and wounded four others. The shooter found the seller of the gun and ammo on Armslist, an online marketplace for such things, even though the shooter was subject to a court order banning him from owning a gun. (The maxim "if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" seems vaguely apropos here). The shooter and seller consummated the transaction offline, so Armslist functioned as an online classified advertising service….

Some of the complaint's key allegations:

[*] Armslist made it easy to search for private sellers, who–unlike licensed dealers–do not have to conduct background checks on buyers. Thus, Armslist "is designed to enable buyers to evade state waiting period and other legal requirements"

[*] Armslist allowed users to flag problematic content but "expressly prevented users from flagging content as purportedly criminal or illegal"

[*] Armslist warned users not to engage in illegal activity but didn't provide "guidance on specific laws governing firearm sales or the care that should be used in conducting such sales" [LAW GOVERNING LAWYERS ALERT: it would potentially constitute the criminal unauthorized practice of law for Armslist to provide "guidance" to its users about specific laws]

[*] Armslist didn't require account registration and thus encouraged anonymity

[*] [T]here is evidence that many buyers wanted to buy from private sellers, especially in states that require licensed dealers to conduct background checks of buyers. A survey indicated that "67 percent of private online sellers in Wisconsin are willing to sell to a person they believe could not pass a background check."

The court summarizes (emphasis added): "Daniel's theory of liability is that, through its design and operation of website features, Armslist's actions were a cause of the injuries to Daniel."

As you know, courts have repeatedly and emphatically shut down plaintiffs' efforts to work around Section 230 by saying they are suing for the defendant-website's "design and operation." [But the Wisconsin court disagreed with those courts.]

Read the whole thing; you might also have a look at my post about the same issue in an earlier case, though that case was dismissed on other grounds.

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  1. =LAW GOVERNING LAWYERS ALERT: it would potentially constitute the criminal unauthorized practice of law for Armslist to provide “guidance” to its users about specific laws=

    Couldn’t they just list the relevant laws without comment and a disclaimer that the list is not necessarily exhaustive?

    If they can be held to account for attempting to explain it, to heck with it. Show the laws and they will be immunized as the population bound by them will effortlessly understand and obey.

    1. That’s presenting the legal opinion that those actually is a list of the relevant laws, and all of them.

      1. Perhaps you missed the part about the disclaimer.

        And arguing only a lawyer can speak as to what laws apply when the laws are applied to you by Congress directly, with no lawyer in-between, does not hp your case any.

    2. You meant he first Amendment violation that people cannot give their opinions about legal matters without it being the unauthorized practice of law?

      1. If it were just their opinions, it would be protected under the First Amendment. But just their opinions would also be inadequate for what the complaint appears to be demanding in the third bullet above.

        Bluntly, the complaint is calling the company to task for following the law and the judge appears to have endorsed that ludicrous position.

        1. Where does it say in the 1st Amendment that there is an exception to freedom of speech and press and its called “Armslist warned users not to engage in illegal activity but didn’t provide “guidance on specific laws governing firearm sales or the care that should be used in conducting such sales”?

          1. Lawyers want to hold them accountable for not warning their users of the law, and for warning their users of the law.

            Nice work if you can get it.

          2. If you admit that you know your service can be used illegally, and you don’t take steps to prevent your service from being used illegally, you are potentially liable for contributing to the illegal acts that follow. This has always been in section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and it was true before the Internet, too.

  2. “there is evidence that many buyers wanted to buy from private sellers, especially in states that require licensed dealers to conduct background checks of buyers. ”

    Of course, and it has nothing to do with not being able to pass a background check. It has to do with private sellers selling used guns at better prices than the dealers who post on Armslist, who generally are just posting ads for new guns at normal prices.

    1. It’s not better that the customers wanted to buy without background checks to save money rather than wanting to buy without background checks because they were worried about passing a background check. Heroin on the street might be cheaper than opioid pain pills at the pharmacy, but skipping the prescription part of the process is still illegal, even if I’m just trying to avoid sitting in a doctor’s waiting room.

  3. I’m curious. On what basis do courts reject design and operation features?

    1. Not quite sure of your question, since this case was about the safe harbor provision of the CDA (47 USC 230). Rather, I think that you are asking about the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), and if a firearm is not defective (I.e. If it operates as designed, advertised, and expected), you can’t sue the manufacturer, dealer, importer, etc just because a feature is deadly – because guns are supposed to be deadly (and their being deadly is key to their 2nd Amdt functionality). So, if you have a feature, etc that makes a firearm more deadly, you can’t sue because of that, but could if the feature were advertised to be more deadly, and isn’t, because then you would either have a defective firearm or false advertising. Normal defective product liability rules apply, not the rules for inherently dangerous products.

  4. It has been a long time since I took Torts in law school (1978-79, to be precise), and I have never practiced in that area. But I do recall, even if only vaguely, that a criminal action by a third party was sufficient to break any chain of proximate cause. So, here you have: (1) Seller advertises on Armslist; (2) Buyer searches Armslist ads and locates Seller; (3) Buyer and Seller meet privately and Seller sells gun(s) and ammunition to Buyer without conducting any background check (which may or may not have been required by Federal law, depending upon whether or not that transaction qualified as a “casual sale”, which depends upon how many sales Seller makes, if I recall correctly); and (4) Buyer then uses gun to shoot plaintiff (which was clearly in violation of law). So how in the HELL can plaintiff hope to establish proximate cause with respect to Armslist? Have the rules of proximate cause just been thrown out the window completely? Or only when it comes to guns?

    Is every single business that deals with guns now required to: (1) assume that every one of its potential customers is capable of criminal conduct; AND (2) required as a matter of law to prevent any criminal conduct, or risk unlimited liability?

    1. Only when it comes to guns, and some judges.

    2. All reasons the claims may yet fail on remand, but the court of appeal here was dealing with the CDA immunity question.

  5. Yet more “judges” who apparently think “because guns” is valid legal reasoning.

    1. Pretty much. My favorite is the common liberal argument that special rules apply to guns because they are “dangerous.” Of course, the point of the 2nd Amendment was to protect arms IN SPITE of their being dangerous.

      1. They are ‘dangerous’ to tyrannical governments and we are nearing that tipping point. That is why politicians are scared of guns.

        1. We have passed the tipping point. The liberal-libertarian alliance has painted movement conservatism — the backwardness, the superstition, the bigotry, the insularity — into a shrinking corner.

          All of this damned progress — reason, education, tolerance, science, inclusivity — has become unstoppable. The school prayers are never coming back. The doobies are being freed. Contraception — let alone abortion — is here for keeps. Gay marriage — right-wingers barely had time to get their gay-bashing boots on before it was over. Women will not lose voting rights. Black men will never again be compelled to lower their gaze in the presence of a white woman.

          Maybe your militia take some of the ammo fund and hire a therapist.

          1. Aw, Kirkland I am not religious and Libertarian, so ending all drug laws and getting the government out of marriage.

            Maybe you should take some of your Venezuelan socialist money and hire a therapist.

            1. A right-winger at the Volokh Conspiracy and reason-com who does not claim to be a libertarian?

              I applaud the honesty.

          2. Oh, but you are wrong. There will be a societal “reset” when the dollar collapses.

            1. Betting on societal collapse has been a bad bet in America. Just like betting on backwardness, or racism (or other forms of intolerance), over all but the shorter terms in America.

              America is strong. I expect it to continue to improve. The disaffected and marginalized are free to expect, or even root for, the contrary.

  6. A survey indicated that “67 percent of private online sellers in Wisconsin are willing to sell to a person they believe could not pass a background check.”

    Looks like they ignored the recent embarrassment when the gun-hating Senators asked the GAO to “prove” that private sellers were willing to sell to prohibited persons.

    https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-18-24

    1. Some of the selling of firearms without background checks is because a significant segment of the gun owning population believes that it is important to own firearms that the federal govt cannot trace to them, and thus, should the courts stop protecting the 2nd Amdt, seize from them.

      1. While I respect that logic, it is deeply flawed. At some point, virtually every gun owner has bought a firearms through a dealer, who are to keep records of the transaction, and when they close up shop said records go to the ATF. If they really wanted to, the Feds could compile a list of gun owners. Now, they may not know WHAT guns you have, like that revolver you inherited from Great Uncle Fred in which there was no form 4473, but yea, keeping off the books that AR-15 isn’t going to protect you in the case of a gun seizure from the government because.

        1. There are millions of guns passed down in families that the government has zero idea about.

          Furthermore anyone who buys guns and guns accessories with anything but cash is crazy. Credit card company records allow the government to side-step 4th Amendment protections.

          1. Yea, that’s the thing, even if there are millions of inherited firearms, at some point virtually all legal gun owners buy one through a dealer, they government still knows who we are, even they don’t know what we have. When you combine it when the ability the Feds have through NSA type of metadata analysis they could put together with a few months of effort, buying a gun for cash is little defense for a confiscation event.

            This is even apart from state laws, for example, in Illinois, every (legal) gun owner has a FOID card, which lists their birthdays. If IL wanted to ban guns from 18-20 year-olds they know who are where they are, even if they don’t know what guns we have. At that point all you have in your toolbox is a “tragic boating accident.”

            1. I don’t think you are correct about so many Americans buying through a dealer. Everyone I know got all their weapons without the government knowing anything.

              Go to a gun show sometime. The Americans that know the government is violating their 2nd Amendment rights probably won’t suddenly change their minds and leave a paper trial.

              I can bet there are many people in Illinois who never got a FOID card, so that state has not idea whats what.

              In my area, if police started raiding homes to seize guns we would blockade the road and destroy any police vehicles trying to terrorize law abiding Americans.

              There are still Americans who refuse to buy into unconstitutional behavior of the state [period]
              No compromises.

              1. In my area, if police started raiding homes to seize guns we would blockade the road and destroy any police vehicles trying to terrorize law abiding Americans.

                A genuine, certified, uncompromising member of the Gun Nut Militia And Sovereign Intertubes All-TalkTough Guy Society, threatening to go “the full LaVoy” if he doesn’t like the manner in which gun safety regulations are implemented!

                Feel free to get all lathered up by Prof. Volokh’s gun absolutism in a right-wing chat room, but I strongly recommend you stick to the “all talk” rules in your militia membership brochure.

              2. “Everyone I know got all their weapons without the government knowing anything.”

                Or at least, that’s what they choose to believe.

                The truth is, the gubmint has no interest in seizing guns from people who aren’t dangerous.

            2. Well, yeah, in the event of a confiscation the government would certainly know “that” I own guns. But they’d be unlikely to know about all the guns I own, only a couple of them.

              So, with any warning at all, when they came to confiscate them, those are all the guns they’d find evidence off.

            3. I am also well aware that if they went house to house to search for guns it would instigate armed conflict.

              1789, will all due respect, everyone you know is a small sample size. There are about 130,000 gun dealers, and they sell a lot of guns, and not just to all the same people over an over. At some point everyone goes through one for something that they are looking for to fill that niche. C’mon, you never went through a dealer to buy that (for example) scout rifle for your sheep hunt because you couldn’t find it any other way?

              This is not me saying that fighting back against registration is pointless, it’s not, because it’s the only way to avoid a low grade confiscation routine where they just go after certain classes or kinds of guns and gun owners (as CA is doing now, and I fear that IL would do if they could, for people who let their FOID cards expire).

              But this is me saying that buying all your guns for cash is kinda like turning off location services on your smartphone…satisfying, but ultimately meaningless.

              1. I did not mean to imply that the people that I know represent the majority and I certainly agree with your position that government knows about many gun owners.

                Its part of reason that background checks and registering of weapons should be struck down for the unconstitutional violation they are. If Americans had fought background checks, the government would not have all the info they have.

                The government can triangulate cell phone position based on towers, so cell phone positioning settings are a redundancy. Paying cash for all armaments and getting guns from dealers that run background checks keeps you completely off the government list.

                1. Even if you pay cash to a dealer, you fill out a form 4473. There is a permanent record that you are a gun owner and you bought that specific gun through that transaction. The ATF can go into any dealer at any time for no reason whatsoever other than they want to check compliance with the paperwork, and go through those records in depth. When the dealer closes up shop, the records of his transactions all go to the ATF, where eventually they get scanned and uploaded into a database. If the ATF wanted a database that was up to date, all they would have to do is seize the paperwork out there at all the dealers. If they really, really wanted to make a database, they would retain the instant check records for longer.

                  The only gun owners that aren’t in a database somewhere as gun owners, are the ones who have ONLY the guns they inherited, or ONLY guns purchased them from someone willing to sell it to them without a background check. The former are not free and clear, because if the government was coming for the guns, the Feds are not going to ignore Junior if there are is paperwork on Senior. As for the latter, that has got to be a very small minority of law-abiding gun owners.

                  So that’s the point of my comparison with smart phones and having location services off being meaningless….the data is there already, they just have to want to get it, and they will if they want to.

                  1. Dealers are the people required to run the paperwork by the ATF. All the other means of keeping and bearing arms are untraceable if you want them to be.

                    Keeping decent gun records really only started in 1993. There were unconstitutional laws since the 1930s but most of them were ignored by most Americans.

                    You are coming from a government knows a lot and I know they don’t know everything.

                    Furthermore, a general confiscation scheme by government has never worked. Even Commifornia has limited success when taking guns from felons or whatever. California is not like other states and has been undermining guns laws for decades. All this stuff California is unconstitutional anyway but they are counting on people not fighting it and traitor judges ignoring the 2nd Amendment.

                    So to recap, there are all sorts of gun owners who the government does not even know are gun owners. Millions more Americans have guns not tracked by the government. Enough Americans would fight a general confiscation scheme to change the USA forever.

                    1. You seem to only be understanding only what you want out of what I am writing. It’s a failure on my part to communicate, or deliberate on your end. Either way it’s okay I suppose.

        2. ATF can access records of gun purchasers. Of non-institutionalized persons* who acquired guns in the NSPOF survey.
          60% purchased from retail sources (since 1968 with a 4473, since 1998 with a NICS check)
          19% received as a gifts
          13% bought used from a private party
          5% inherited from a relative
          3% swapped or traded with another gun owner
          Looking through my personal gun log, that’s close to my experience.

          Mexican civilians need Army approval with registration. A Mexican security consultant’s report on civilian guns in Mexico estimated 3 million registered civilian type guns, 12 million unregistered military type guns, and 40 million unregistered civilian type guns. The tighter gun control gets, the more you get into the position of the narrator of Edgar Allan Poe’s “A Dream With A Dream”:
          I stand amid the roar
          Of a surf-tormented shore,
          And I hold within my hand
          Grains of the golden sand–
          How few! yet how they creep
          Through my fingers to the deep
          While I weep–while I weep!

          1. ___________________________
            * Institutionalized survey sample:
            US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Firearms Use by Offenders
            (nationwide sample of prison inmates who possessed a firearm during the offense for which they were imprisoned)

            2004 Source of firearms possessed by state prison inmates at time of offense

            11.3% Retail Purchase or trade
            7.3 – Retail store
            2.6 – Pawnshop
            0.6 – Flea market
            0.8 – Gun show

            37.4% Family or friend
            12.2 – Purchased or traded
            14.1 – Rented or borrowed
            11.1 – Other

            40.0% Street/illegal source
            7.5 – Theft or burglary
            25.2 – Drug dealer/off street
            7.4 – Fence/black market

            11.2% Other source

    2. Yeah, I don’t believe that survey at all.

  7. As I understand what is going on here (without reading the case), the argument was that Armslist was not protected by the Safe Harbor provision of the CDA (47 USC 230) because it was, essentially, facilitating illegal behavior (selling guns across state lines without using a FFL), and someone did use the service to commit such an illegal act, buying a gun illegally, and that gun was used to commit a crime.

    1. One detail, the alleged shooter was subject to a domestic violence injunction that made him ineligible under both state and federal law from possessing a firearm.

      1. A bigger detail is that those injunctions are unconstitutional violations of the right to keep and bear arms.

        It was a way for government to side-step the protections of the 2nd and 6th Amendments. The person has a right to jury trial before rights can be stripped away for the duration of his sentence. After his sentence is over, the person gets their rights back because they are out of state custody.

        1. “The person has a right to jury trial before rights can be stripped away for the duration of his sentence.”

          This is a false premise.

          The Constitution guarantees a jury trial for some things, and it requires due process for some things, and the two overlap somewhat, but not completely.

          I guess we’ll have to forgive your ignorance, since neither one was in the Constitution of 1789.

    2. I’m curious why they went after Armslist instead of the police. “Zina successfully sought an injunction from a circuit court that prohibited Radcliffe from contacting Zina and from possessing a firearm for four years.” It is apparent that Armslist less than the police and courts did in facilitating a firearm transfer; IOW neither facilitated the transfer.

      I wonder what is next, suing the auto ad magazines for allowing private sales of vehicles that cannot legally own/drive one? Perhaps suing the NYT, WaPo, etc. for allowing the private sales of items used for criminal activity?

      1. Its an attempt to side-step the 2nd Amendment by attacking gun manufacturers and gun distribution networks.

        The tipping point of unabashed tyranny is nearing.

      2. “I wonder what is next, suing the auto ad magazines for allowing private sales of vehicles that cannot legally own/drive one?”

        Sure. Except… there’s no such thing as a person who cannot legally own a car.

    3. “because it was, essentially, facilitating illegal behavior (selling guns across state lines without using a FFL), and someone did use the service to commit such an illegal act”

      That’s basically what the court said, yes. The problem with it is that it would apply just as strongly to “facillitating” libel in various ways.

      1. Re-publishing a libel is a libel. You knew that, right? So is “facilitating” libel.

  8. Firstly, the 2nd Amendment prohibits government from infringing on the rights to keep and bear arms, so any court ban on possessing firearms was unconstitutional for the guy.
    II Amendment:
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    After that, the civil lawsuit should have been thrown out because there is no cause of action that would place liability on a gun seller for anything a buyer did.

  9. What’s the difference between this and Dram Shop Laws?

    BTW I’m against Dram Shop Laws but would like to see all gun sales registered and all gun buyers go through the vetting process (which does NOT infringe upon 2A).

    1. What you suggest is a violation of the 2nd Amendment.

      Background checks, bans, limits, etc of all arms available to Americans are unconstitutional.

      1. I think it’s great the Prof. Volokh provides this space in which gun nuts can stop worrying about public opinion on gun absolutism and instead feel and speak as if their extremism is normal. A respite from the real world is nice for those who don’t much like the present and are destined to hate the future.

        Carry on, clingers. Fly that “guns, gays, and God” banner with pride!

        1. Public opinion does support gun rights. More than you will ever know since you live in a bubble and think your position is what is popular with most of America. Its not popular.

          You sure do mention God a lot even when the person you’re responding to is not religious.

          1. “Public opinion does support gun rights”

            Which makes all the paranoia about “gun grabbers” look REALLY silly. Yes, there are a few fringers who want to disarm everybody. They are few, and not to be taken seriously by people who think rationally.

            1. Paranoia? Not so much, as we know the ultimate end game of the gun control movement, total civilian confiscation. Even if you personally, JP, are not for civilian confiscation, they are, and they are willing to get there a slice at a time.

              You wanna know why public opinion is the way it is? Because this is the one social issue in the past half century where conservatives didn’t fold like a napkin.

            2. “Yes, there are a few fringers who want to disarm everybody.”

              No, it’s not just a few fringers. Almost everyone at a high level in the gun control movement has supported a complete ban on civilian ownership of firearms.

              The Brady foundation, the leading gun-control organisation used to be quite open that a total ban on all civilian ownership of firearms was the end goal. They don’t talk about that anymore because it’s not politically possible at this time, but I don’t for one minute believe that they have completely and permanently abandoned that goal.

              1. ‘No, it’s not just a few fringers. Almost everyone at a high level in the gun control movement has supported a complete ban on civilian ownership of firearms.”

                You, also, are not to be taken seriously.

          2. I support gun rights, too. I believe the Constitution protects a right to possess a reasonable firearm for self-defense in the home.

            I also recognize that a substantial majority of Americans support universal background checks, and that reasonable safety regulations are more popular than is gun extremism.

            I hope the backlash against gun extremism is not so severe that it diminishes the right to possess a reasonable firearm in the home, but sense that it is just as likely to be a snap-back as it is to be a moderate swing of the pendulum.

        2. Ah Artie, lots of us are just as absolute about the 1st (et al) as the 2nd.

          1. How absolute?

            Misleading, unregistered securities solicitations?

            Kiddie porn?

            False labeling of food and medications?

            Midnight bullhorns in residential neighborhoods?

            Nuclear weapon blueprints and biological weapon formulations?

      2. “Background checks, bans, limits, etc of all arms available to Americans are unconstitutional.”

        When was the Constitution amended to remove the words “well-regulated” from the second amendment?

        1. “Well-regulated” in terms of the 2nd Amendment, was referring to a well trained militia.

          1. “”Well-regulated” in terms of the 2nd Amendment, was referring to a well trained militia.”

            Duh.

            Are those words still there, or not?

        2. There are plenty of solid legal arguments to be made about the constitutionality of gun control laws, but “well regulated” isn’t one of them.

          1. It’s shorthand.
            There are people who’ve read the opening clause of the 2A completely out. Their interpretation is therefore to be rejected.

            Then, as you suggest, a rational discussion can proceed.

    2. Dram Shop laws are mainly against the commercial seller, who has physical contact with the other person, not where the ads were placed for the bar, club, etc.

      Although it does appear that the court is trying to make a square peg fit a round hole.

      1. Because guns.

      2. “Dram Shop laws are mainly against the commercial seller”

        Market-makers are somehow different?
        (Suppose I set up a square on private land, and sell booth space to purveyors of locally-produced wine and spirits, and invite the public to come and sample their wares. Should I face liability from my neighbors for all the drunk drivers who crash into their property? After all, *I* didn’t sell any alcohol!)

    3. In some ways, this is similar to a Dram Shop law. The differences, though small, are significant.

      1. The dram shops have immediate and personal knowledge of the impairment of the buyer. That is, the bartender already has personal knowledge of a) how many drinks he/she has already served to the buyer within the relevant (and short) time window and b) the visible signs of inebriation presented by the buyer. Neither Armslist nor even the actual seller of a weapon have any prior personal knowledge of impairments that prohibit a buyer from being allowed to purchase a weapon.

      2. The dram shops were put on specific notice of their liability before the imposition of liability. That it, they were passed by explicit statute with full legislative fact-finding and debate, not be judicial interpretation of a much more general law that had never been held to be applicable.

      3. Alcohol is different because Prohibition and its repeal are part of the Constitution. The specific wording we used in both those Amendments creates some obligations and opportunities that are not available to the regulation of other commerce.

      1. AMENDMENT XVIII.

        Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article
        the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors
        within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof
        from the United States and all territory subject to the
        jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

        Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have
        concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate
        legislation.

        Section 3. [ratification boilerplate]

        AMENDMENT XXI.

        Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the
        Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

        Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State,
        Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use
        therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws
        thereof, is hereby prohibited.

        Section 3. [ratification boilerplate]

  10. So if I list my used car in Autotrader magazine, and sell it to someone whose drivers’ license has been revoked, and they cause a fatal accident while driving it, Autotrader is liable. Well, at least I’m not, apparently.

    1. Yes, you are. But Autotrader has deeper pockets than you do. Tort law has nothing to do with fixing liability correctly using rational rules of law. It is all about enriching plaintiff’s tort lawyers, by any means necessary.

      1. No, he’s not liable unless the state where he’s in imposes such a special duty on car sellers. I doubt that’s the case anywhere.

    2. Under the current flawed legal logic that judge peddle as precedent.

  11. I don’t think liberals realize that we (conservatives) are willing to die for what we believe in. Liberals are not.

    1. Be my guest…

      Oh, and I served our country for 20 years in the US Air Force and gave them a blank check with my life.

      Take that asshole.

      1. Even if you’re telling the truth, I suspect you never saw combat or anything beyond watching movies in a garrison environment.

        1. Unless he flew in WWII, he was in one of the safest branches behind the Coast Guard.

          He’s supposedly Air Force. Officers love to be liberal after not really doing as much as enlisted service members did.

          1. “Unless he flew in WWII, he was in one of the safest branches behind the Coast Guard.”

            The USAF didn’t exist until after WWII wrapped up.

            “He’s supposedly Air Force. Officers love to be liberal after not really doing as much as enlisted service members did.”

            The AF is the one branch of service where the enlisted men all wave as the officers go off to fight.

        2. Officer risk enlisted people’s lives and then some of them love to risk other people’s money in government.

      2. Not to disparage your service, because I have mine as well, but it is a bit of hyperbole to say “black check with my life.”

    2. I don’t think liberals realize that we (conservatives) are willing to die for what we believe in.

      With the rare exception of a LaVoy Finnicum (no longer able to share his insights with us, however, because he took his right-wing nuttery seriously), I have found most right-wingers to be raging, all-talk pussies.

      That tough-talking right-winger from Charlottesville is probably still whimpering in a corner somewhere. Those Traditional Workers Party goobers folded quicker than a makeshift trailer carport in a stiff wind. (Here’s a handy chart for those struggling to keep up with that one consequent to unfamiliarity with backwater conservative social conventions.)

      And who can forget this stirring portrait of conservative-Republican values, resolve, and toughness?

    3. “I don’t think liberals realize that we (conservatives) are willing to die for what we believe in.”

      I don’t think you know jack shit about liberals.

  12. The real problem with the court’s conclusion (contrary to many other courts) is that you can’t get around the immunity statute simply by saying (or even proving) that the site was set up in a way to “facilitate” illegal behavior like a felon purchasing guns. If that were the case, then the immunity would completely disappear, because instead of suing a website for defamation, they would sue the website for operating in such a manner as to make defamation easier – for example, by allowing anonymous comments or not telling people that defamation is illegal (two things exactly in parallel to what the court of appeals here found could make Armslist liable for the illegal gun transaction).

    You might as well say that every business with an alley or a dark parking lot “facilitates” any crime that happens in them.

    1. “You might as well say that every business with an alley or a dark parking lot “facilitates” any crime that happens in them.”

      This is fairly close to the law, yes. Property-owners can be found liable for crimes that happen on their property, if they haven’t taken steps to prevent it.

  13. I don’t see any dangerous erosion of rights.
    Websites that are designed to help people do things that create liability, whether civil or criminal, ought to be aware that they’re creating liability. When you help create liability, you face contributory liability. This is not a novel application of law, it’s been known (and explored in various legal contexts) for a very long time.

    Writing down something that incriminates you doesn’t magically create an exclusionary rule to protect your “right to free press”. So if you take out an ad asking someone to kill your spouse in return for money, that can be used as evidence that your spouse’s murder was at your behest. Now, if you operate a website that allows users to communicate with each other to, say, debate the merits of libertarian government, and two users happen to use that website for such a communication, the website operator shouldn’t be responsible for that. But if you operate the website “killyourspouseformoney.com” and allow users to interact with each other, that’s a different story.

    1. Of course. But for your analogy to work, armlist would have to be marketed toward allowing criminals to buy guns. It’s not.

      1. If not, then they win in court.

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