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Man from Tulalip Tribes enters not guilty plea to firearms charge

Raymond Lee Fryberg at the federal courthouse in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Craig Newcomb / KOMO / Twitter

Raymond Lee Fryberg Jr., a member of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, pleaded not guilty to a firearms charge in federal court on Thursday.

The indictment charges Fryberg, 42, one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. Federal prosecutors say he acquired five firearms -- including the one used in a fatal school shooting last October -- despite being under a domestic violence protection order in tribal court.

Fryberg acknowledged being under the order and later pleading guilty in tribal court to violating the order. But his attorney has told news organizations that the order never specifically said he could not possess firearms.

The order was never shared with local authorities, so it never made it to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Had it been in the system, Fryberg likely would not have been allowed to purchase guns at Cabela’s, a privately-owned company with a location on the reservation.

Section 233 of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 states that tribes "shall" be given access to federal criminal information databases. It also states that tribe should be able to "access and enter information" into the systems.

Nearly five years later, the Department of Justice has not fully complied with the law. In November 2014, the FBI announced that tribes can "access" the system but they still cannot "enter" information into it.

DOJ has since agreed to hold a meeting with tribes to discuss the situation, the AP reported.

Fryberg was charged under Title 18, Section 922 of the U.S. Code. Section (g) prohibits people who are the subject of domestic violence protection orders from obtaining firearms.

The law does not specifically mention tribal court orders. It merely states "a court order."

Another section of the law states that people who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in "any court" cannot possess firearms either.

The October 24, 2014, shooting at the Marysville-Pilchuck High School claimed the lives of four young people and another was wounded by gunfire. The alleged shooter, who turned the gun on himself, was Fryberg's son.

Get the Story:
Father of school shooter pleads not guilty to gun charge (AP 4/17)
Marysville Shooting: Data Barriers Hide Tribal Court Cases (KUOW 4/13)
Justice Department to hold meeting with tribes on databases (AP 4/8)

Federal Register Notice:
National Instant Criminal Background Check System Regulation (November 20, 2014)

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