Gun-control group to sue online gun advertiser in Oak Brook murder
Updated: December 17, 2012 4:32PM
A national gun-control group plans to file a lawsuit Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court against an Internet gun advertiser on behalf of the family of a woman shot to death by a stalker, the Sun-Times is reporting.
The Brady Center plans to sue armslist.com, whose website showcased the handgun used in the killing of Jitka Vesel last year in Oak Brook, officials say. Vesel’s former boyfriend, Dmitry Smirnov, is serving a life sentence for the murder.
“It makes me angry that some murderous guy could go buy a gun on the Internet,” said Vesel’s brother, Alex Vasely.
The lawsuit is a “first of its kind” against a gun website, according to Brady Center attorney Jonathan Lowy.
Armslist.com facilitates illegal gun sales to unlawful buyers with no background checks and no questions asked, the lawsuit said.
The site lets users search for sellers in all 50 states, allowing them to evade laws requiring private sellers to deal only with gun buyers from the same state, the lawsuit added.
The lawsuit provided examples of private sellers advertising that they would ship guns out of state.
The Brady Center is seeking compensation for Vesel’s brother, who was named as a special administrator for his sister’s estate.
“To prevent a further tragedy like that, I will do whatever it takes,” he said.
In the Vesel case, Smirnov saw a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson advertised on armslist.com, officials said.
Smirnov — a resident of Vancouver, Canada — arranged with Benedict Ladera to buy the weapon outside a casino in Washington state.
During the private sale, Smirnov told Ladera he was from Canada and needed a gun because he was robbed. Ladera later pleaded guilty to the illegal transfer of a firearm to an out-of-state resident and was sentenced to a year in prison.
Smirnov had lived with Vesel briefly in 2008 after they met on the Internet. They broke up and he moved back to his home in Vancouver. Three years later, he ambushed her in the parking lot of the Czechoslovak Heritage Museum where she was volunteering to prepare a celebration to honor former Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak.
Smirnov later explained to a judge that he shot Vesel on April 13, 2011, because “you can’t just expect to just dump someone like that.”
Armslist.com was also in the news in a mass killing in Brookfield, Wis., in November.
The website advertised a .40-caliber handgun that a private seller sold to Radcliff Haughton. He used the gun to kill three women, including his wife, and wound four others in a spa before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.
Some sellers using the site have posted similar warnings.
Representatives of Armslist.com could not be reached for comment.