Lebanon Junction, Ky. — Following reports that Kentucky State Police Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder was shot and killed by a felon from Missouri, the Kentucky chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement from volunteer chapter leader Tracey Goodlette.
“Our deepest sympathies are with the family of Officer Ponder and his colleagues. It’s heartbreaking that, once again, someone who should have never been able to get his hands on a gun has killed a police officer. In fact, research shows that, in 2013, over 50 percent of police officer shooting deaths were committed by individuals who were prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. The shooter who killed Officer Ponder was from Missouri—a state with weak gun laws, like our own state of Kentucky, that makes it easy for criminals to gain access to guns by not requiring background checks on all gun sales. In fact, research shows that Missouri’s repeal of its background check requirement on all gun sales resulted in 25 percent increase in gun homicide. Today’s tragedy is more evidence that both national and state leaders in Kentucky and Missouri need to pass laws that keep guns out of dangerous hands. Kentucky Moms will not rest until politicians take this action to protect our families and the law enforcement officers who work every day to keep our communities safe.”
Additional Information on the Shooting of Kentucky State Police Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder:
- At 11:20 p.m., Kentucky State Police Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder, 31, attempted to pull over a car for a traffic stop on Interstate 24 in Lyon County. The vehicle fled the scene and was pursued by Ponder for nine miles, when the driver abruptly stopped the car, causing Trooper Ponder to crash into the rear of the vehicle. The driver then exited his vehicle and fired several shots at the police cruiser, hitting the hood, windshield, and Ponder multiple times, before fleeing the scene on foot.
- Ponder was taken to a local hospital and died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds at 12:41 a.m.
At 7:30 a.m. the following morning, Kentucky State Police found Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, 25, armed and hiding in a small wooded area a few miles from the scene of the crash. After Johnson-Shanks refused orders to lower his handgun, he was shot by members of a special response team. Johnson-Shanks was taken to a local hospital and died an hour later.
Johnson-Shanks is a convicted felon who was prohibited from possessing firearms.
- Johnson-Shanks, of Florissant, MO, was prohibited from possessing firearms. In 2007, he pled guilty to felony second-degree burglary, and is currently on probation.
Dangerous loopholes in state and federal law allow guns to end up in dangerous hands.
Both Kentucky and Missouri do not require criminal background checks on all gun sales. Felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people can buy guns from unlicensed sellers—including strangers they meet online and at gun shows—with no background check, no questions asked.
- In fact, Missouri’s repeal of its background check requirement was associated with a 25% increase in gun homicide
- States like Kentucky and Missouri, that have not taken steps to close the background check loophole, export crime guns at a rate 2.5 times greater than states have made efforts to close this dangerous gap.
- States that require background checks on all handgun sales see 48% fewer law enforcement officers killed with handguns.
- Of fatal shootings of law enforcement in 2013 where the shooter was known, over one-half were committed by people prohibited from possessing guns.
Federal law prohibits ATF from requiring gun dealers to inventory their firearms. Since 2004, an appropriations rider has blocked ATF from requiring gun dealers to inventory their firearms. Routine physical inventories allow dealers to more quickly detect lost and stolen guns; the lack of an inventory requirement blocks law enforcement investigations and creates a loophole exploited by corrupt dealers.
Policy changes can reduce the flow of guns into dangerous hands.
- Requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales would keep guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people.
- Requiring reporting of stolen guns, or allowing local governments to require reporting of stolen guns, would weed out the straw purchasers who profit from putting guns into dangerous hands.
- Repealing the federal inventory rider would allow ATF to crack down on careless and corrupt gun dealers, and reduce the flow of lost and stolen guns into dangerous hands.