Man Charged In Michigan Random Killings Had Stash Of Legal Guns

In this Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 photo provided by Southwick's gun store, Jason Dalton, left, appears in the store in Plainwell, Mich., hours before he went on a shooting rampage. Dalton admitted to gunning down rando... In this Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 photo provided by Southwick's gun store, Jason Dalton, left, appears in the store in Plainwell, Mich., hours before he went on a shooting rampage. Dalton admitted to gunning down randomly chosen victims in and around Kalamazoo, Mich., — attacks apparently carried out over hours during which he also ferried passengers around town as an Uber driver. (Southwick's Gun Store via AP) MORE LESS
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PLAINWELL, Mich. (AP) — A man accused of randomly killing six people in Michigan had a personal cache of weapons that included handguns and long guns, but there was nothing in his past that prevented him from owning as many guns as he could afford.

Authorities seized the gun collection after the weekend attacks around the Kalamazoo area. With no criminal history or record of mental illness, Michigan residents who follow requirements can legally acquire any number of firearms.

“He was a law-abiding citizen up until he pulled the trigger on the first victim,” said Jonathan Southwick, owner of a gun store in Plainwell, 20 miles north of Kalamazoo. “There are no laws you could put into place to stop what had happened.”

Southwick said Jason Dalton bought a jacket with an inside pocket designed for a handgun Saturday, just hours before the rampage. He did not buy a gun.

“He talked with my manager for a bit, was laughing and joking a bit, gave him a one-armed hug — then proceeded to purchase the jacket and said he was going out to enjoy the weather,” Southwick recalled Tuesday.

Dalton did not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, Undersheriff Paul Matyas said.

When Southwick later heard about the deadly attacks, it was “definitely a shock,” he said.

Dalton, 45, is charged with murder and attempted murder. He’s accused of killing six people and injuring two more outside an apartment building, a restaurant and a car dealership, pausing between shootings to make money as an Uber driver.

Prosecutor Jeff Getting said the weapon appeared to be a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun.

President Barack Obama, referring to the Kalamazoo shootings, said, “clearly we’re going to need to do more if we’re going to keep innocent Americans safe.” His gun-control efforts after several mass shootings, including attacks on a Connecticut school and a South Carolina church, have been rebuffed by Congress.

In Michigan’s Capitol, Rep. Joe Hoadley, a Democrat from Kalamazoo, said gun violence is a critical concern among his constituents. He’s supporting bills to restrict open carrying of guns in certain public places and to require more background checks at gun shows. Those bills are unlikely to get a hearing in a Legislature controlled by conservative Republicans.

“There may not have been a way to stop a person from doing evil,” Hoadley said of the Kalamazoo shootings. “But that should not derail a conversation about what we can do overall to reduce gun violence.”

Kristen Moore, a University of Michigan math professor and member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said the shootings could be a “tipping point” to get lawmakers and the public to embrace a “need to do more.”

But Republican state Rep. Triston Cole said Michigan’s gun laws aren’t lenient. He notes that the state is among only a handful in which owners must register handguns with local police.

“It’s really important that we recognize this awful, senseless tragedy,” Cole said. “But you need to look at good policy and not react based on emotion to infringe upon our right to own firearms.”

___

White reported from Detroit.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP photo: In this Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 photo provided by Southwick’s gun store, Jason Dalton, left, appears in the store in Plainwell, Mich., hours before he went on a shooting rampage. (Southwick’s Gun Store via AP)

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Notable Replies

  1. The NRA must be so proud. Somewhere, Wayne LaPierre is masturbating.

  2. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

    Corollary: If people didn’t have guns, people wouldn’t use guns to kill people.

  3. Cruz: We mourn the victims but constitution is clear: Anyone can own as many guns as they want. Gunman is a democrat assaulting our freedom to own guns.

  4. We’re the guy’s guns registered with local police as stated is the requirement? If so, how was his ‘stash’ a ‘stash’ of legal guns instead of him just being a gun owner with guns?
    Were the local police aware of his registered legal guns or surprised because they weren’t?

  5. “There are no laws you could put into place to stop what had happened.”

    Actually, there are, but that would involve a sea-change in public discourse about the implications of the 2nd amendment.

    For example, make the law much more restrictive on handguns than on rifles and shotguns. Require a demonstrated prior need to possess a handgun instead of a longer weapon.

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