KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On Tuesday, the city filed a lawsuit against several businesses in the gun industry, arguing they've contributed to illegal gun trafficking that's created a public nuisance.
Mayor Quinton Lucas calls this a novel approach to fighting crime. It's the first time in more than a decade that a major U.S. city has filed such a lawsuit, according to the city.
The city was joined in the lawsuit by Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, a national gun safety advocacy group.
"There is a whole network of folks who have been involved in creating this harm to the people of Kansas City," Lucas said.
The city's lawsuit targets a gun manufacturer and several weapons dealers that helped an illegal gun trafficker -- also a former Kansas City firefighter -- break federal law.
The suit revolves around the case of James Samuels, who the city says brought at least 77 firearms into the community illegally from 2013-2018.
The suit alleges gun manufacturer Jimenez Arms sold firearms to Samuels, who didn't have a federal firearms license.
"A gun trafficker cannot accomplish his work alone," said attorney Alla Lefkowitz of the Everytown Law Group. "He needs suppliers, and he needs straw buyers. He needs companies willing to look the other way. He needs individuals willing to lie for him."
The city claims Jimenez Arms and three local gun dealers should have known that bulk and repeat sales were being made to so-called straw buyers.
Lefkowitz claims businesses shipped Samuels up to eight firearms at a time in unlicensed sales -- without conducting any background checks.
"There is a significant problem with illegal gun trafficking in our city," Lucas said. "While a lot of our criminal justice partners make sure they root this out, they address it, there are a lot of private actors who each day create new threats for citizens of Kansas City, for citizens of the entire region."
Lawyers said some of the guns illegally brought into Kansas City have not yet been recovered.
The suit claims this public nuisance endangered citizens and tied up emergency responders, courts and other public services.
The city seeks monetary damages and a court order to force gun firms to change their business practices.
In addition to Jimenez Arms, local gun dealers Conceal and Carry, C.R. Sales and Mission Ready Gun Works are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
None of the defendants has yet responded to FOX4's request for comment on the legal action.