The man who opened fire in a Texas church on Sunday, killing two before being shot dead by parishioners, was identified as Keith Thomas Kinnunen, a convicted felon who, under federal law, could not legally own a gun.
Online court records show Kinnunen pleaded guilty to felony aggravated assault and battery in a Grady County, Oklahoma court on August 15, 2013.
Kinnunen pleaded guilty to felony third-degree arson, also on August 15, 2013, according to court records.
In the wake of the shooting perpetrated by Kinnnuen, which took place at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, gun control advocates and some liberal politicians have demanded increased state and federal regulation of firearms.
However, existing federal law already prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms, unless they have been pardoned.
Federal law trumps state law, but even under Texas state law, felons are barred from possessing guns except on the property where they live five years after their conviction.
“As I tell my students, it’s very simple,” South Texas Law School professor Gerald Treece told CBS affiliate KHOU in 2017. “Federal law always trumps state and local laws in terms of conflict.”
“They think it says they can have a gun in their possession as long as it’s been five years, for self defense,” Treece said. “I think even if that’s true, it’s trumped by federal law.”
Kinnunen’s two victims killed at West Freeway Church of Christ were identified as Anton Wallace, 64, of Fort Worth and Richard White, 67, also of River Oaks, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.
A live video caught the terrifying moment when the gunman stood next to the pews wearing a dark hood and started firing a long gun before members of the church’s volunteer security team shot him in the church located in a suburb northwest of Fort Worth.
The gunman had been to the church several times in the past and may have been mentally ill, but authorities were still investigating a possible motive, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said during a news conference on Monday.
(Reuters contributed to this report.)
- Footage of a church shooting in White Settlement, Texas.: Screen grab