Convicted criminals, who are barred from ever possessing a gun, are finding weapons and committing crimes in Mecklenburg County. WBTV learned that CMPD filed close to 400 charges involving felons and firearms in 2012.
CMPD records obtained by WBTV show a little over half of the gun related charges from 2012 involve convicted felons. Last year, CMPD filed 786 charges relating to guns; 398 of those charges are classified as firearm by felon.
"Those cases are a real priority for us," said Mecklenburg County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Davis. He says the CMPD numbers are on par with previous years.
"That doesn't surprise me at all. There are a lot of guns on the street," he said.
Guns are Larry Hyatt's business. His family started Hyatt Gun and Coin decades ago. Hyatt says it's the felons who are causing problems for the industry.
"They have nothing to lose, they are not afraid to be arrested because they already have a record so it doesn't hurt them," Hyatt said.
Perhaps the biggest question, how do felons get the guns?
"Our biggest risk is if someone that doesn't have a record can get a permit and buys one for someone that does have a record," Hyatt said.
Hyatt says a huge chunk of his job is vetting who comes into his store. He's had to turn down felons in the past.
"They're going to go to jail. That's a huge crime for a felon to be in possession of a firearm," he said.
Assistant District Attorney Davis says jail may not be enough to stop felons from getting their hands on firearms.
"One of the things that the judge is going to say in the courtroom is you can't have guns ever. That usually just goes in one ear and out the other," Davis said.
Davis and Hyatt both agree that CMPD's charges are a good sign, though it'll never solve the problem completely.
"Guns are available in the black market. Drugs are available in the black market and throughout history we've never been able to stop it," Hyatt said.