Stevie Marie Vigil of Colorado faces criminal charges for allegedly purchasing a firearm and then illegally transferring it to Evan Ebel, who allegedly used the firearm to murder a Colorado prison chief.
Vigil initially purchased the gun legally. She acquired the weapon from High Plains Arms, which did a full background check. No red flags came up and Vigil didn’t have a criminal record, so the retailer sold the gun to Vigil. A representative from the store told reporters, “The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has determined the transaction in question was a lawful transfer from High Plains Arms to the purchaser.”
It’s what Vigil did afterward that could earn her jail time. Vigil allegedly transferred the gun to 28-year-old white supremacist Evan Ebel. Police suspect that Ebel used the firearm to kill Tom Clements, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections. Ebel was also a suspect in the murder of a Domino’s Pizza driver. Ebel was later gunned down in a shooting with police in Texas.
Ebel’s story was brought to a bloody conclusion, but Vigil’s fate still hangs in the balance. Colorado is one of the few states that has laws against making straw firearm purchases. It’s listed as a class 4 felony and carries penalties up to 16 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Colorado law explicitly states that anybody who aids, abets, or encourages a criminal is “as responsible as the person who committed the crime,” explained criminal defense attorney Karen Steinhauser.
Coincidentally, this is exactly the type of case that Democrats are trying to avoid with new legislation that would require universal background checks on all firearm purchases. Theoretically, the law would make it more difficult for mentally ill people to acquire firearms, and it would also make it illegal for straw purchasers to legally acquire a gun before transferring it to a criminal. If convicted, gun control advocates could point to Vigil’s case as a “Told you so” example of stricter gun laws.