Federal law officials have seized 199 guns from the house of a South Carolina man who had them illegally, a federal prosecutor said in court Tuesday.
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seized the guns “and a few thousand rounds of ammunition” at the house of William Carl Turner, assistant U.S. Attorney Elliott Daniels told Magistrate Judge Paige Gossett.
Turner, 56, of North Augusta, has been charged with having the guns illegally because, under federal law, his prior conviction in state court of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature disqualifies him from owning weapons, according to an indictment in the case and Daniels’ statements to Gossett in court.
Columbia defense attorney Mark Moore, who represented Turner, told The State after the hearing, “My client is a gun collector. He did not intentionally violate any law, and we look forward to litigating this case in court.”
Turner, whose state conviction was in 2008, bought some of his guns from a Columbia man who federal officials have said ran a thriving illegal gun and ammunition selling business, Daniels told Gossett at the hearing.
The Columbia man, Da Vonta Da Quan Markquis Beard, was indicted in November on multiple wire fraud and weapons-related federal charges including operating as an unlicensed gun dealer, according to an indictment in his case.
An indictment in Turner’s case also charges him with the illegal possession of two rifles with barrel lengths less than 16 inches and a firearm silencer that isn’t registered. Short barreled rifles and silencers are illegal unless someone has a permit from the federal government.
Daniels also told Gossett that Turner, a slender man with glasses, gray hair and a slight whitish beard, is a “defendant of substantial financial means” and will be hiring a lawyer from New York.
Turner has family in the North Augusta-Aiken area and has been cooperating with the ATF from the beginning of the case, Daniels told Gossett.
Defense attorney Moore, who appeared in court Tuesday with Turner, told Gossett he expects to be Turner’s local lawyer along with the New York lawyer, who was not identified.
Moore told Gossett that Turner is neither a flight risk nor does he pose a danger to the community. Gossett let Turner go free on $25,000 unsecured bond on his promise to appear for all future court appearances.
If convicted, Turner could face up to 10 years in prison. Under a 2019 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Rehaif vs. United States, the government must be able to prove a defendant knew he belonged a category of persons barred from possessing a firearm to win a conviction.