Authorities believe the gun used in the drive-by shooting in Midland and Odessa, Texas this past weekend was illegally manufactured and sold by a Lubbock, Texas man, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is currently investigating a man who they believe illegally manufactured and sold the AR-15-style rifle that Seth Ator used to kill seven people and injure 22 more on Saturday, before he was shot and killed by police.
Ator, 36, had previously attempted to purchase a gun from a licensed seller in January 2014, but failed the requisite background check because he’d been declared mentally unfit by a local court. A nationwide criminal-background check identified the court order and prevented the purchase, according to local authorities.
If Ator did in fact purchase the weapon through a private transaction, its seller was under no obligation to conduct a background check, but could be held criminally liable if evidence emerges that he knew his prospective customer came to him due to a previous background-check failure.
Authorities intercepted Ator outside of a movie theater, killing him only after he rampaged down a highway that links Midland and Odessa shooting indiscriminately.
Partisan tensions over gun-control legislation have escalated in recent weeks following separate mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Congressional Democrats continue to insist on universal-background-check legislation that would apply to private sales, a version of which passed the House earlier this year.
Republicans, meanwhile, remain non-committal as Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refuses to endorse specific legislation.