The two rifles used by Rancho Tehama Reserve killer Kevin Neal on Tuesday were “manufactured illegally by him at his home” and were obtained illegally, according to reports quoting Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston, who spoke with reporters Wednesday morning.
Johnston also upped the victim count to five, with the discovery of Neal’s wife’s body, concealed beneath the floorboards of their home. Her slaying may have ignited the rampage that also claimed the lives of two neighbors with whom Neal reportedly had an ongoing dispute of some kind.
The rifles, and two handguns recovered at the scene where Neal was fatally shot by two sheriff’s deputies, were not registered, Johnston said, according to KRCR News.
Neal was out on bail awaiting a trial in January on charges of assault stemming from an incident earlier this year, KTVU News reported. His mother had posted the $160,000 bail and reportedly spent more than $10,000 on attorney’s fees.
In addition to the five people killed, ten others were injured, including at least one child, according to published reports.
The acknowledgement that Neal had unregistered and allegedly “illegally manufactured” rifles is a mark against California’s tough gun control laws. Over the past several years, lawmakers in Sacramento have incrementally made the state’s gun laws more restrictive. Yet Neal, whose legal situation reportedly made him ineligible to possess firearms, had at least four guns.
Second Amendment activists have repeatedly argued that gun control proponents push laws under the mistaken impression that those laws will be automatically obeyed. But criminals and people intent on committing mayhem, rights activists say, simply don’t obey the law.
Another revelation that came Wednesday was that a law-abiding gun owner, a woman who was reportedly driving her children to the Rancho Tehama Elementary School, drew her legally-licensed handgun and attempted to fire at the shooter. However, according to KRCR, Johnston said she couldn’t get a shot off because the gunman fired about eight rounds at her truck and then sped away.
As more details emerge from the unincorporated Northern California community, gun control proponents may be challenged to explain why their restrictive measures didn’t work. Anti-gunners may, however, simply argue that they need even more gun control restrictions because of the failure of those already in place.