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Manchester Murders: Did Smith Illegally Own Guns?

As the debate over stricter gun laws continues on the state and national level, a small Scott County community grieves the murders of five family members.
Before buying a gun, a person has to go through certain qualifications; including a federal background check and in Illinois, applying for and receiving a firearm owner identification card.

As the small town of Manchester copes with the heinous murders, questions arise regarding how and why the shooter had a gun in the first place.

"Legally, he absolutely should not have had a gun," said criminal defense attorney Jon Gray Noll. He isn't involved in the Manchester murder case, but gives us his legal perspective.

State police say 43-year old Rick Smith broke into an apartment early Wednesday morning and shot three adults and three kids with a shotgun at close range. A six-year old girl survived and is recovering at St. John's hospital.

Smith died in a shootout with authorities. We're now learning some of the weapons he had. "It was a shotgun and also a rifle and a long bladed knife," said Trooper Mike Kindhart with Illinois State Police.

According to records, Smith was convicted of aggravated DUI in 2000 in Morgan County; which is a felony.

Federal and state law prohibits felons from possession of a firearm.

"There's a reason felons can't have weapons. they're dangerous people and have shown it and society says we're not going to take a risk with you," Noll said.

We asked Illinois State Police, the lead agency on the case, if the shotgun used in the crime was registered to Smith, if they know how he got it, and if he had a FOID card.

"All of those will come out in the future so at this point in time that's not being released on any of the identification of his items as far as FOID card and even the exact weapons," Kindhart said.

Although state police aren't releasing how Smith got the gun, it's important to note: it is against the law for a legal gun owner to buy or give a gun to a felon.

Also, if firearms are ever stolen, report it to police immediately; that way you don't share responsibility if one is used in a crime.