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Authorities Consider Charges Against Man Who Sold Gun to Teen

By: Olivia Fecteau; WSAZ News Staff Email
By: Olivia Fecteau; WSAZ News Staff Email
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UPDATE 10/15/13 @ 6:05 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) – The controversy of a student taking a gun on school property continues as investigators look into filing federal charges against the man who sold him the handgun through Facebook.

The boy, who is 15 years old, was caught with a 9mm handgun at Greenup County High School on Friday. He told investigators he bought the gun on the Internet. Greenup County Sheriff Keith Cooper said Tuesday the man and boy arranged the sale through the “Portsmouth Pickers” Facebook group and met up in South Portsmouth, Ky., which is in the western part of Greenup County.

“Basically, as far as an excuse, he said the kid looked older than he was,” Cooper said of the man, who came forward to investigators after seeing WSAZ.com’s story on Saturday night.

Under federal laws, people younger than 21 years old cannot have or buy a handgun. By default, that makes juveniles “prohibited” people – much like felons, who cannot have guns, according to Kraig Hankins.

Hankins is the chief of the Flatwoods Police Department and spent 20 years as a senior special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or A.T.F.

Hankins said that isn’t the only federal law that comes into play here.

“Under the federal law, a non-licensee of one state cannot transfer a firearm to a non-licensee of another state,” Hankins said.

The man who sold the gun to the teenager lives in Ohio. Because the teen lives in Kentucky, selling a gun online would have been illegal even if the boy was 21 years old. Hankins said sales across state lines are prohibited unless it goes through federally licensed dealers in each state.

As an example, he said, a “person in Kentucky could send that firearm to a firearms licensee in West Virginia, and then that person could buy the gun through that licensee. […] They cannot transfer the two firearms between each other, individually.”

However, both Cooper and Hankins noted that buying and selling guns online is legal, despite the fact that no paperwork is required and no background check is conducted, as it would typically be for gun sales. Cooper said he thinks online gun sales are a bad idea altogether.

“If you're a gun dealer to a gun dealer, sure, the Internet's a fine thing. But to people that you don't know, you just meet on Facebook – hell yes, it's a bad idea,” Cooper said.

He added that it allows guns to get into the hands of people who may misuse them.

“You end up with guns at schools,” Cooper said. “If i was going to rob a bank, you think I'd go and fill out the paperwork to buy one? Or if I was going to commit a murder, do you think I’d go and fill the federal paperwork out? I'd contact some fool on the Internet and say, ‘I need a gun and I need it to protect my home.’”

The A.T.F. is investigating this case and will file federal charges soon against the man who sold the gun.

The teenager, who is a freshman at Greenup County High School, was arraigned in juvenile court on Monday morning.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/12/13 @ 7:05 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) – A high school freshman is in jail after investigators say he was caught with a gun at Greenup County High School before the school’s homecoming football game Friday night.

Greenup County Sheriff Keith Cooper said it happened about 5 p.m. and that the boy, who is 15 years old, raised his shirt and flashed the weapon to a group of football players, who told their coach. School officials separated him from the other students and called deputies, who questioned the boy about why he had a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun with him.

“Fully loaded, with a clip in it, extra clip in his pocket and a box of shells in his backpack,” Cooper said. “Told them, yeah, he did bring the gun with him, didn't intend on using it or have any real plans for it, he just wanted to be cool.”

Jason Blevins lives about two blocks from the school and has two teenage daughters. He found out about the incident through a text message alert and voicemail from the school superintendent.

“My first thought was that my daughter was at the football game,” Blevins said. “She was there on the campus when it happened, so I was just really glad that nothing happened.”

The student did not fire any shots, according to Sheriff Cooper, who said while the gun was loaded, the bullets were not in the chamber. No one was hurt.

“Kind of scary in a way, because you never know what somebody might do – even if they say they're not intending to shoot it or something like that. You never know what's going to happen,” Blevins said.

Cooper said the student told them he bought the gun on the Internet.

“If we can find out who it was that met a 15-year-old boy and sold him a handgun, we're going to want to, us and the ATF are both going to want to talk to them,” Cooper said.

He cautioned parents that while high school students may think they are adults, they are still children.

“There's nothing cool about taking a gun with you to school or to a function,” Cooper said. “Guns have their place and I'm a big proponent of them, but not for children.”

Cooper added, “He's a boy but he's facing a man's charges here, and it'll be up to the court system to see what happens to him.”

The student has been charged with carrying a gun on school grounds, which is a Class D felony punishable by up to a year in prison. He is also facing a charge of carrying a concealed weapon. He is currently at the Boyd County Detention Center, which Cooper says is the closest facility approved for juveniles.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


ORIGINAL STORY 10/11/13 @ 8:45 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A 15-year-old Greenup County High School student was arrested Friday after Greenup County Sheriff's deputies say he was caught with a gun on school grounds, according to the sheriff.

It happened about 5 p.m. Friday.

No one was hurt.

The sheriff said the student was arrested and is charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

More charges are pending.

School officials say they will prosecute to the fullest extent in this case.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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