Kansas Gunman Served Restraining Order Hours Before Rampage, And How Straw Purchases Are Still Illegal

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NEWTON, KANSAS — A man recently served a restraining order went on a killing rampage Thursday which left three people dead and 14 others injured. The lone gunman was causing chaos for roughly a half hour, beginning on a highway and then making his way to a lawn mower factory. The man was finally stopped by a police officer who encountered him at the factory, shooting him dead.

Details are coming out as to how the man acquired the firearm that he used in the crimes, a handgun and a rifle, and it’s not something we haven’t seen before. Given the man’s history as a convicted felon, he was unable to legally purchase or own any firearms. Then on Friday, it was learned that the firearms were provided to him through a straw purchase made by Sarah T. Hopkins, 28, of Newton, Kansas. Hopkins told investigators that her and the suspect were previously in a relationship, and that she provided the firearms to him after purchase.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said during a news conference Friday. Walton said the gunman here was not aiming at any specific co-workers. “He was randomly shooting people,” he said.

Authorities have identified Cedric Larry Ford, 38, of Newton, as the shooter, Walton said. Later on Friday, Walton named the three people killed in the shooting: Renee Benjamin, 30; Joshua Higbee, 31; and Brian Sadowsky, 44.

Of course a straw purchase is illegal, but it didn’t stop it from happening in this case. While some will blame the firearms, or loose gun laws, the real problem comes down to the individuals who commit these crimes. The laws were already on the books to stop this man from gaining access to firearms, and they worked. If the suspect himself had tried to purchase a firearm at a gun store, he would have been instantly denied after his background check was processed.

The suspect’s Facebook page is said to be riddled with photos and video of him holding and using various firearms, and again I will point out the fact that this is illegal. With his status as a felon, he legally cannot own or possess a firearm, which includes holding or shooting them.

For her role, Hopkins could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

We don’t need more gun laws; we need smarter people. I’m not saying that, had Hopkins not had given him the firearms that he wouldn’t have been able to find them elsewhere, but I am saying that she made a very bad –and illegal– decision.

And it ultimately cost the lives of three people.