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Two Kansas residents become victim to a confused legal system

By   /   December 6, 2016  /   No Comments

In 2014, Shane Cox began selling unregistered sound-suppressors out of his army surplus store “Tough Guys,” located in Chanute, Kansas. According to Kansas law SB-102, his actions were perfectly legal.

SB-102, otherwise known as the Second Amendment Protection Act, was passed in 2013 and states that “any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the government of the United States which violates the second amendment to the constitution of the United States is null, void and unenforceable in the state of Kansas” Sound suppressors and other “Firearm accessories” are included in this protection.

Shutterstock Image

Shutterstock Image

Cox told Watchdog that he even asked the Chanute police department if he could legally manufacture unregister suppressors in the state of Kansas. According to Cox, they told him he was in the right.

But when agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) came and raided his store, the local law enforcement was less than helpful.

Cox first called the Neosho county sheriff’s department. One of their officers arrived at the scene, briefly spoke to the federal agents, and left. Cox then called the Chanute police department. When one of their captains arrived, Cox showed them the copy of SB-102 that he kept in his store, but the captain was unsure of the situation and left the scene as well.

According to SB-102, the ATF agents were committing a felony by enforcing federal gun control laws on any firearm accessories that were manufactured and kept in Kansas.

Cox wasn’t charged with violating federal law for the manufacture, sale and possession of unregistered firearms and silencers until four months after the raid.

“This is causing all kinds of trouble,” Cox told Watchdog. “I lost my business and had to get another job.” His wife left him shortly after the trial.

Cox had several customers that purchased unregistered suppressors. One of them was a lieutenant with the local sheriff’s department who Cox says threw his suppressor in the river when he heard about the ATF raid.

Out of all Cox’s customers, only disabled veteran Jeremy Kettler has been convicted. He suspects this is because he was the only one of Cox’s customers that told the ATF they were committing a felony.

“When [an ATF agent] started accusing me of being some kind of scum, I informed him that he was committing a felony,” Kettler told Watchdog. “That’s when he got irate.”

Neither Cox nor Kettler were allowed to quote SB-102 in court. “[Judge Thomas Marten] wouldn’t even let the jury see the law,” Kettler told Watchdog. “It was in no way to be used as a defense.”

If Kettler receives a prison sentence of more than 50 days, he looses all funding from the VA, which is his main source of income as a disabled veteran. He also told Watchdog that gun ownership is a “huge part” of his life that he is barred from unless there is an appeal.

Cox told Watchdog that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a “hero” and has been very helpful in the case. He said that Kobach gave him his personal number and even raised a fund so that Cox would be able to hire a lawyer.

Kobach has said this case is “a perfect example of a prosecution that should never occur.”

Kettler’s fiancé is putting together a protest scheduled for January 11 in Topeka, KS. She has also started a petition asking for “a dismissal in the wrongful convictions of Jeremy Kettler and Shane Cox.”

The sentencing is scheduled for February 6.

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Will Horn is a Fall 2016 Journalism Intern for Watchdog.org.