San Diego

DA Investigating How Synagogue Shooting Suspect Obtained Rifle

Among the many remaining questions about the Poway synagogue shooting: how did the suspect get his rifle, despite a tough new law that limits firearms purchases in California?

At a news conference following the suspect's first court appearance, District Attorney Summer Stephan confirmed the alleged gunman used an AR-15-style assault rifle when he stormed the Chabad of Poway building.

But a new state law that took effect January 1, limits firearm purchases to adults age 21 and older.

That legislation includes two exceptions: if you're over 18 and have a valid hunting license, you can buy a gun. Law enforcement and active or honorably discharged military members aged 18-20 can also buy weapons.

Information available about the suspect indicates he was not a member of the military and has not worked in law enforcement.

Though the District Attorney indicated, but would not confirm, that Earnest might have a hunting license, NBC 7 Investigates learned that the list of state residents who have hunting and/or fishing licenses in confidential.

At her news conference, District Attorney Summer Stephen did not fully answer follow-up questions from reporters seeking details about how the suspect legally obtained the rifle.

But Stepan said investigators will soon have all those answers.

“We will look at whether the ammo was obtained legally, whether the gun was obtained legally, whether whoever sold him the gun complied with everything they're supposed to comply with,” Stephan said. “All of those things are the subject of the additional investigation and the (search) warrants."

It's also possible the suspect bought his weapon in another state, like Arizona, where 18-year-olds can buy rifles and ammunition.

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