Sutherland Springs is a mass shooting we don’t hear too much about. After all, it didn’t really advance the narrative all that much. You had a man who never should have been able to pass a background check buy two firearms after doing just that. You also had him met with armed resistance after he exited the church, thus proving the “good guy with a gun” is not a myth. Those two reasons alone were plenty of grounds for the media to memory hole this shooting as quickly as possible.
However, the investigation is apparently still ongoing.
It seems federal authorities are arguing that the store which sold the eventual gunman his rifle did so illegally.
Academy Sports + Outdoors violated the Federal Gun Control Act when the Katy retailer sold an assault-style rifle and high capacity magazine to the man who used them to kill more than two dozen people inside a Sutherland Springs church in 2017, federal prosecutors said in a court filing this week.
The Department of Justice, in a court filing Tuesday responding to lawsuits from victim’s families, implicated Academy as a responsible party in the mass shooting. Prosecutors defending the U.S. said Academy should not have sold [killer’s name redacted] a Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic rifle with a 30-round magazine, which is illegal in the shooters’ home state of Colorado.
While the weapon was perfectly legal in Texas and the killer may well have been residing in Texas, he presented a Colorado ID, which meant it had to be legal in that state.
So, what does this really mean in the current gun control debate? Honestly, not much.
I suspect some will look at this and try to use it to justify a federal assault weapon ban on the grounds that if these guns were illegal everywhere, he wouldn’t have been able to buy it.
Frankly, I don’t think the weapon type made a whole lot of difference in the grand scheme of things. He was a ruthless killer who had his prey penned inside of a single building. I’m quite sure he could have purchased a weapon legal in Colorado that he could have killed just as many people with.
Still, federal is what it is, and that means if the allegations are true, Academy Sports + Outdoors is going to have to answer for it. I’m not quite sure just what that will mean, but I suspect that whoever made the mistake–and I’m going to assume it’s a mistake for reasons I’ll get into in a moment–is out of a job at a minimum.
So why do I think it’s a mistake? Well, the reason is fairly simple. The laws about this are complicated. They’re complicated by the fact that it’s incredibly difficult for people in one state to know the laws in another state intimately. Even if someone was familiar with Colorado law, the killer may well have argued he lived in Texas, which is what the common interpretation of the law actually states.
I’m not saying they were justified. It’s a mistake and someone clearly screwed up. I just don’t think it’s anything but a mistake.
However, the anti-gunners who will try to make hay out of this are right on one thing. The laws are complicated and should be simplified. Where I break from them is that I think they should be simplified by going back to the Second Amendment’s plain meaning and remember that our right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. End all of this nonsense and the laws will be simplified.
Especially since it wasn’t the weapon that was so deadly in Sutherland Springs, but the maniac using it.