Federal court upholds AG Ellison’s lawsuit against Fleet Farm

U.S. District Court Judge John R. Tunheim ruled to uphold Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s lawsuit against Fleet Farm.

Ellison filed the lawsuit in October, alleging that Fleet Farm “aided and abetted criminals and contributed to gun trafficking in Minnesota” by selling firearms to straw purchasers.

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Fleet Farm had previously filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, according to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office.

Tunheim found that the State’s claims were properly filed and weren’t barred by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which grants the firearms industry protection from litigation.

The court decided that “the State has plausibly alleged that Fleet Farm knew or should have known that it was selling firearms to straw purchasers, who by definition are purchasing weapons for people who cannot purchase weapons legally.” It also noted that the allegations point out the danger of illegally-obtained firearms.

“The Court’s decision that the State’s lawsuit against Fleet Farm should proceed is an important step toward ensuring gun dealers are held accountable when they look the other way while selling to straw buyers. It also sends a clear message that federal law should not — and does not — shield gun dealers from liability if they ignore obvious red flags and sell to straw purchasers,” Attorney General Ellison said. “While the Ramsey County Attorney has criminally prosecuted the perpetrators of the Truck Stop shooting that involved a gun straw-purchased at Fleet Farm, I am using the tools of civil law and my Office to further protect the public from illegally obtained firearms that are used to commit crimes or end up in the hands of people who aren’t allowed to have guns. We now move to discovery to uncover everything that Fleet Farm knew about these straw purchasers and what Fleet Farm did — if anything — to keep the public from being harmed by these purchases.”