Officer-involved shooting investigation continues, felons finding ways to stay armed

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. - The investigation of an officer-involved shooting in Eau Claire County continued Wednesday after a man with a gun was shot, police said.

Police said they conducted interviews Wednesday following the shooting of 46-year-old Paul Lynch.

The sheriff said Lynch was shot after he fired at a deputy Monday night outside his home in the Town of Union.

The deputy's name hasn't been released. Lynch is a felon and is on probation, so he's not allowed to own a gun.

“That's a concern for us if you take a look at the court document, he wasn't' supposed to possess a weapon,” Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer said. “We're asking the Eau Claire Police Department (to investigate) how he got it.”

Paul Lynch was still in the hospital Wednesday, wounded by a gunshot.

The investigation isn't over and charges haven't been filed, but one law the sheriff says Lynch absolutely violated was possessing a firearm as a felon.

“Sgt. (Mike) Mayer had worked with the court that all weapons were seized from him and destroyed and weren't given back. The concern is how did (Lynch) get this weapon?”

John Van Toll owns The Bore's Nest Guns and Ammo on Seymour Road in Eau Claire.

“If a felon wants to get their hands on a firearm, walking into a licensed dealership isn't the way to go. If a teen wants to steal a car, they don't have to go down to the dealership,” Van Toll said.

He says felons rarely try to buy guns through a licensed dealer, and are even less likely to leave with a gun.

“Trying to go through a federally licensed dealer with a criminal record almost always gets you nowhere without resorting to identity theft or criminal activity,” he said.

Chippewa County District Attorney Steve Gibbs is also an NRA instructor.

“The vast majority of the firearms are purchased on the black market, illegally. The FBI's national instant background check has caught a lot of them. But most of them are bought illegally, or a lot that we've seen in this office is that they've actually committed crimes in stealing it or such to obtain those firearms,” Gibbs said.

He said he supports the current gun laws and doesn't think changing them will prevent crime.

“If people are going to commit a crime, no level of security is going to stop them from doing that.”

Gibbs says possessing a firearm as a felon can be a felony itself and violators can be sentenced to more than six years in prison.

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