Federal investigators cracking down on illegal guns in Hampton Roads

Posted at 11:19 AM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 21:13:10-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Federal investigators are cracking down on illegal guns, court records show.

Cases filed this month in Norfolk Federal Court show investigators charging multiple people with gun-related crimes.

In one, a man is accused of making false statements when purchasing guns. Investigators say Kevin Staton purchased 45 guns and gave them to other people, a practice known as straw purchasing, according to court documents.

Staton is scheduled to plead guilty during a court hearing on Friday, according to court records.

Friday, Staton's lawyers provided News 3 with the following statement:

Kevin Staton unfortunately exploited a firearm purchasing system in Virginia, which prior to the enactment of legislation last year permitted unlimited handgun purchases by an individual monthly.

Kevin never intended to put guns in the hands of individuals that would use them in crimes.

He has no prior involvement with law enforcement and many of his firearm purchases were lawful.

He is extremely remorseful and has accepted full responsibility for any false statement he made on ATF firearm forms , as to the intended transferee of firearms purchased.
Jon M. Babineau & Edward Fiorella

In another separate case, investigators say Karon Howard possessed a machine gun by attaching an auto sear conversion kit to turn a handgun into an automatic weapon, court records say.

Howard had a court hearing on Wednesday, where he was ordered to stay in jail without bond.

News 3 has been investigating the flow of illegal guns into Hampton Roads.

Earlier this month,News 3 reported on a Virginia Beach man under investigation for selling "switches" to people. Switches are also devices that turn semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons.

“Disrupting the flow of illegally-trafficked firearms is critical to reducing the painful toll that gun violence inflicts on our communities and our loved ones," Raj Parekh, former Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, told News 3 earlier this year.

Police say the majority of guns used in crimes are illegal.

“Eight times out of 10, those guns that are used in a crime are illegal guns,” Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone said.

Norfolk Police say they have recovered more than 700 guns in each of the last three years because the guns were stolen, lost or recovered in an investigation.

News 3 crime analyst and retired police officer Rick James told News 3 investigators are trying to make sure guns stay out of criminals' hands.

"Illegal purchases of firearms are associated with most pf the crimes that we see whether there are robberies or aggravated assaults, shootings and murders. Not only that, illegal firearms are the most dangerous tool that is used against law enforcement," said James.

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