Judge dismisses Chicago's lawsuit against Indiana gun shop

A judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit the city of Chicago filed against a northwestern Indiana store that alleged it sold hundreds of guns in straw purchases that ended up in the hands of felons or at crime scenes in the city.

The city sued Westforth Sports Inc. of Gary in April 2021, alleging the store repeatedly violated federal gun laws and that store owner Earl Westforth ignored warnings from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives about suspicious purchases at the store.

Cook County Judge Clare Quish dismissed the lawsuit. Straw gun sales refer to those that someone purportedly purchases for their own use but actually are bought for others.

Attorneys for Westforth Sports argued the lawsuit should be dismissed because the city of Chicago's allegations concerned transactions between Westforth and residents of Indiana, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In a statement issued after the dismissal, Westforth attorney Timothy Rudd said that the court "properly found that constitutional due process does not allow an out-of-state firearms retailer to be hauled into court in Illinois unless the claims against it arise out of or relate to the retailer's own contacts with the state."

Alla Lefkowitz, an attorney representing the city, said in a statement that officials have "not yet had an opportunity to review the decision" but that the city "fully intends to press on with its case against Westforth."

A 2017 Chicago police report said Westforth Sports was the third-largest supplier of guns used in crimes in the city. It said that from 2013 to 2016, 2.3% of all crime guns recovered in Chicago originated at Westforth.

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