On the News

TX Man Admits Illegally Selling AR-15 Rifle in Mass Shooting

A Texas man who sold firearms online pleaded guilty to illegally selling an AR-15-style rifle to Seth Ator, who used it to kill seven people and wound 25 in a 2019 shooting. The plea agreement in federal court in Lubbock, Tx., is a sign of increased scrutiny of private gun sales, including those conducted online. Such transactions have proved challenging for authorities to regulate, the Wall Street Journal reports. Ator, who was shot and killed by police after a shooting rampage, had been deemed by a court to be mentally unfit to own firearms before purchasing the weapon from Marcus Braziel. Braziel admitted that he sold numerous guns without a firearm dealer’s license online. Several people who purchased firearms from him had been barred from buying guns.

Braziel posted ads for the guns on websites including Armslist.com and then arranged to meet with the buyers in person to complete the sale. Ator tried unsuccessfully to buy a gun in 2014 but was flagged by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. He turned to Braziel in 2016. Federal law doesn’t require background checks for private gun sales between individuals, though 22 states require checks for at least some private sales. Prosecutors charged Braziel with selling guns without a license. Under federal law, individuals “in the business” of dealing or manufacturing firearms must get a license. Braziel initially told law enforcement he was selling guns as a hobby. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined he had sold around 70 guns, mostly through websites, over several years. Gun-control advocates say sites like Armslist.com make it easy for people who couldn’t otherwise pass background checks to buy guns privately. Gun rights supporters say regulating private transactions would make it too difficult for people to sell used firearms and do little to reduce crime.