By LISA MARIE PANE and BRENDAN FARRINGTON
(AP)– Just months after his 18th birthday, Nikolas Cruz went to a Florida gun store to buy a weapon. But there were limits on what he could purchase at his age.
Cruz wasn’t old enough to buy any of the handguns at the store. But there’s no such restriction for rifles, shotguns or the AR-15 that police say he used to carry out the nation’s deadliest school shooting in more than five years.
The young age of the man accused in the Florida high school shooting that killed 17 people has revived the debate over age requirements for gun purchases in a country where a patchwork of laws and rural states steeped in hunting culture allow kids as young as 14 to buy rifles.
In most states, it’s easier for teenagers to buy rifles than handguns.
Federal law requires someone to be at least 21 to buy a handgun from a licensed dealer, but only 18 in most places to buy a long gun. In some states — mostly rural places with a strong tradition of hunting — you can buy a rifle at the age of 14 or 16.
Gun-rights advocates call the long gun an integral part of American culture, allowing kids and their parents to bond while out in the woods hunting and providing a way to teach youngsters firearms safety.
Gun-control advocates counter the laws are outdated and fail to recognize the toll that modern, militaristic-style long guns have played in killing scores of innocent men, women and children. They say such rifles should not be in the same category as a bolt-action rifle that a young hunter uses to shoot a deer and vow to add this to the list of restrictions they are pushing for despite having little momentum in Congress to do so.
“It used to be the case that long guns were hunting guns. They were bolt-action shotguns and single-shot rifles and things really people bought for hunting or sport shooting and weren’t the kind of (AR-style rifles) that are used in mass shootings,” said Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
An estimated 8 million AR-style guns have been sold since they were first introduced to the public in the 1960s, and about half of them are owned by current or former members of the military or law enforcement, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
On average, more than 13,000 people are killed each year in the United States by guns, and most of those incidents involve handguns while a tiny fraction involve an AR-style firearm. Still, the AR plays an oversized role in many of the most high-profile shootings, including the nightclub shooting in Orlando and the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history: the attack by a gunman holed up in a Las Vegas hotel that left 58 dead and hundreds injured.
States including Maine, Minnesota and Vermont allow teens 14 or 16 years old to buy or purchase long guns without parental consent, with some exceptions. Only two states — Hawaii and Illinois — have imposed stiffer age restrictions, requiring someone to be at least 21 before they can purchase a long gun.
The disparity in age requirements between handguns and long guns exists largely because of the popularity of hunting in the U.S. Hunting deer, ducks, geese, varmints and various other animals is a way of life for youth in many states, and the laws are generally written to accommodate purchases of rifles and handguns for teenagers.
The younger age for long guns dates back to the 1880s. While handguns have long been tied to crime, long guns have been part of the fabric of American life — from hunting and target shooting to gun clubs in the Boy Scouts and some schools.
Florida is a large and diverse state. Despite the buzz and glitz of some of its largest cities like Miami and Orlando, large sections of the state remain rural, conservative and gun-friendly. Republicans have held strong majorities in both legislative chambers for the past two decades and have moved more often to expand gun rights than restrict them — leading some gun-control advocates to call the Sunshine State the Gunshine State.
The man designated to be Florida’s next House Speaker, Republican Rep. Jose Oliva, indicated hours after the school shooting that he wouldn’t be in favor of gun restrictions.
“You don’t take cars off the road because someone got drunk, used one and killed someone. You don’t take a car off the road because someone rented a U-Haul and ran it into some people in New York City,” Oliva said.
Florida is a state where one of the leading Republican candidates for governor, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, proudly agreed when a newspaper editorial called him a sellout to the National Rifle Association.
Gun-control advocates and even some police officials are holding out hope — albeit a longshot given current political realities — that there will be some movement to change age requirements.
“An 18-year-old with an AK-47 and an AR-15 is completely unreasonable,” said Frank Fernandez, director of public safety in Coral Gables, Florida, and the chairman of the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s firearms committee. “That is a weapon that is meant for destruction. It’s not a weapon that you can use to go hunting. That is a weapon … used in the theater of war.”
Follow the AP’s complete coverage of the Florida school shooting here: https://apnews.com/tag/Floridaschoolshooting
Explosion in Austin, $100,000 reward for suspect(s)
Two men have suffered serious injuries Sunday night after an explosion was reported in Southwestern Austin, Texas, according to emergency workers.
Officials have not confirmed whether the explosion was a result of a packaged bomb but three heard blast over the past month in Austin have killed two people and critically wounded at least two women.
Tonight’s explosion occurred on Dawn Song Drive, according to Austin-Travis County EMS Twitter account. “At this incident and are prepping those patients for transport.”
Two men who are believed to be in their 20’s were injured, according to investigators adding that the injuries were not expected to be life-threatening.
Austin police said the reward for information leading to an arrest in the deadly explosions has risen by $50,000 to a new total of $100,000. More than 500 officers, including federal agents, have conducted 236 interviews following up 435 leads.
BUSTED!!! It’s A Low Down Dirty Shame, Keep It Southern Construction owner accused of scam
A dirty, low-down construction company owner is being investigated by law enforcement after he was accused of scamming over 100 people over a number of years.
YES, YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY. DIRTY AND LOW-DOWN!
Dennis Ray Rose, 39, currently of Marshallberg, NC, this according to new “business” paperwork, has allegedly had many fake unlicensed businesses, but two of them allowed for an extremely lavish life, until NOW!
Many customers of “Always A Rose Construction”, previously based out of Onslow County, which has been renamed “Keep It Southern Construction”, and is now based in Marshallberg, NC, told News In Onslow that they would pay Rose for work that he never completed. He would make excuses as to why he was unable to complete the job and when asked for a refund, he would threaten the customer with legal action claiming that the customer was in breach of contract because they failed to allow him to “perform his services” in a time frame he deemed acceptable.
After investigating this scam, News In Onslow learned that Rose would go to the “Camp Lejeune Online yard Sales!” Facebook group and advertise his business suggesting that his company offered “the lowest prices around”. This was part of his scam that was used to lure customers in and convince them that the work they needed was not as expensive as they thought. He would also advertise jobs with his company claiming that he was in need of workers that were “dependable and have knowledge of all construction.”
Once Rose found his next unsuspecting victim, he would allegedly meet with them and show them “fake papers that he was licensed” knowing full well that he was not. Customers were required to pay a 50% deposit up front for the total cost of the job, Rose would start the work but it was never finished.
According to the Better Business Bureau, Rose currently have 4 complaints filed against him, in which one complaint states: “I have a contract with this business to paint and do repairs on my house. They did bad work, never finished the job and they were paid $1,650 I have a contract with this company to paint and do repairs on my house, they did bad work and never did all repairs. I have tried several times to get them to finish their work. I keep being told they will come out and they never show up. A guy they sent to work on my house was smoking weed in my backyard. I paid them $1650 in cash and they have not been back to finish. I will have to hire another contractor to redo everything they have done. I want my $1,650 returned.”
Another complainant, according to the Better Business Bureau said that Rose company “took payment for work never completed. Took 1400 to disassemble move be reassemble a pool and install electrical line to pool equipment. Dissembles and moved pool. Has never come back. Disconnected his phone service. Won’t respond to my communication.”
You can read the other complaints at https://www.bbb.org/raleigh-durham/business-reviews/home-improvement/always-a-rose-construction-in-morehead-city-nc-90291474
News In Onslow reached out to both Rose and his girlfriend, Tammy, for a statement and they adamantly denied the allegations.
Local authorities have confirmed with News In Onslow that Rose has had numerous complaints made against him and that the case is currently in the hands of the District Attorney’s Office.
BUSTED! Local Veteran Thrift Store of America doors close following owner’s exposure of multiple SCANDALS
A man that many thought they could trust is now going down BIG TIME!
The owner of both the Veteran Thrift Store of America, located at 709 New Bridge Street in Downtown Jacksonville and the Pink Ribbon Caffe, located at 411 N Main Street, in Downtown Tarboro, Myron McCutcheon, is under fire for fraud, embezzlement, drug allegations, unpaid employees, rejected 501(c) 3 and possible tax evasion.
McCutcheon told many in the Onslow and Edgecombe communities that he had been medically discharged from the United States Marine Corps, but citizens later found out that he is dishonest and he was actually dishonorably discharged as a (Private) following drug charges.
After his dishonorable discharge, McCutcheon purported to be a Veteran of varying ranks, which ranged from Private to Gunnery Sergeant. It appeared that his rank was actually “Stolen Valor”, and according to “The Stolen Valor Act” of 2013, “it is a federal crime to fraudulently claim to be a recipient of certain military decorations or medals in order to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefits”. While it appeared to be beneficial to the community, nothing was free.
McCutcheon’s aid to the community came at the cost of inflated Facebook reviews to boost his reputation. According to the former CEO of the Veteran Thrift Store of America, this was the only circumstance in which McCutcheon would assist community members. He claimed that he wanted to create a way to give back to the veterans who served and even those that continued to serve as first responders.
The thrift store opened in March of 2017 and sources say that McCutcheon used the title of “Veteran” to obtain donations and scam people to help support his illegitimate charity. News In Onslow spoke to the landlord of 709 New Bridge Street on Friday afternoon who confirmed that McCutcheon will be served with an eviction notice in the coming weeks but what will happen to the donations remains unknown.
In April of 2017, McCutcheon registered “American Heroes of Valor Corporation” as a 501 (C) 3 with the State of North Carolina and was approved but the IRS rejected his application. During that time, he attempted to attach “Veteran Thrift Store of America” to the “American Heroes of Valor Corporation” and began accepting donations for veterans knowing that it was illegal.
After “Veteran Thrift Store of America” closed, McCutcheon took his scam to Tarboro where he launched the “Pink Ribbon Caffe”, for which he says he came up with the idea of opening because he wanted to help cancer victims who were struggling with to pay their bills. Sources tell News In Onslow, that all proceeds are not going to anyone other than McCutcheon to fund his, alleged, drug and alcohol use.
In a recently published article by the Tar River Times, they mention that the employees of the Pink Ribbon Cafe“started catching onto McCutcheon’s antics, and the multiple lies that began to surface that McCutcheon had been caught in.” Supporters of McCutcheon were astonished when they found out that he lied about the Pink Ribbon Cafe being registered as a non-profit 501(C) 3.
Sometime later, after the Pink Ribbon Cafe official launch February 23, 2017, Tarboro Police discovered that McCutcheon had a three-year-old warrant for failure to appear on a driving while license revoked charge in Onslow County. He claims that it was his attorney’s fault for not doing his job which was to take care of the charges on his behalf. After further investigation, officials stated that he was not represented by an attorney in that case.
Days later, McCutcheon was arrested again by Tarboro Police after Detective Sgt. Brandon Richardson launched an investigation and concluded that McCutcheon refused to pay his employees. He has been charged with three counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.
Two of McCutcheon’s former employees resigned from his companies last week in light of these new allegations and charges.
READ RESIGNATIONS BELOW:
To FOLLOW all the latest on McCutcheon, here is the Veteran Thrift Store of America Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VeteranThriftStoreofAmerica/
McCutcheon is scheduled to appear in Edgecombe County Court on the three counts of obtaining property by false pretenses March 21, 2018.