KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City and the state of Illinois filed a lawsuit Friday against a federal agency that awarded a license to an arms manufacturer that was sued last year for illegally selling guns and went bankrupt.
The lawsuit alleges the Bureau of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives awarded the license to JA Industries, renamed from Jimenez Arms, after it repeatedly broke federal firearms laws and contributed to gun trafficking. The lawsuit says the company's cheap firearms contribute to the rising violent crime in Kansas City and Chicago.
Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, a national gun safety advocacy group, joined the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs want the ATF to revoke JA Industries' license.
“It is inexcusable that the regulators we rely on to enforce federal gun laws have failed to take action despite the clear evidence that Jimenez Arms contributed to gun trafficking,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “This effort is about accountability — and it’s also protecting Kansas City residents by addressing an ongoing threat to public safety in our city.”
Kansas City and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund sued Jimenez Arms and several others a year ago, alleging they contributed to surging gun violence in the Kansas City region by ignoring evidence that guns were being sold illegally in the area.
Jimenez Arms filed for bankruptcy about a month after that lawsuit was filed. The new lawsuit says the owner, Paul Jimenez, applied for a new license under the name JA Industries and that it took the ATF less than a month to award a license. Jimenez is not a defendant in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit contends that Jimenez makes tens of thousands of cheap handguns every year that have turned up at crime scenes in Kansas City and Chicago “at a rate disproportionate to the company’s market share.”
Alla Lefkowitz, director of affirmative litigation at Everytown Law, said it was an “appalling regulatory failure.”
“With so many red flags about this company in the ATF’s own records, it should never have even been a close call whether to allow it to continue selling guns under a new name,” Lefkowitz said in a statement.
The ATF said it “does not comment on pending or ongoing litigation,” The Kansas City Star reported.