UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — The ease in which the 18-year-old shooter purchased two semiautomatic rifles and more than 1,600 bullets before killing 19 children and two adults in an Uvalde elementary school Tuesday has highlighted the unfettered access civilians have to ammunition in Texas.

Joseph Lewis, a retired FBI agent who spent 27 years with the bureau, told KXAN there would be no flag or alarm set off by his purchases. Authorities say the shooter had no criminal background. He would have passed a background check, and there is no legal limit to the number of bullets someone can buy in a store, according to Lewis and gun policy experts.

“You’re talking about the State of Texas, that’s wide open,” Lewis said.

The shooter got his guns legally through Oasis Outback, a Uvalde sporting goods store, according to published reports.

KXAN visited Oasis Outback on Friday. A representative of the store said it was “a tough time for the whole town.” He would not comment further on the gunman’s business and asked KXAN to leave the property.

Though the shooter’s purchases at Oasis Outback sounded no alarms, KXAN found a man was sentenced to federal prison after legally buying approximately 10,000 bullets from the same store in 2009. That man helped try to smuggle the ammo out of the country. The Oasis Outback broke no laws in that case.

Oasis Outback, a sporting goods store in Uvalde, Texas
Uvalde elementary school shooter got his guns and ammunition legally from Oasis Outback, a local sporting goods store, according to published reports. (KXAN Photo / Matt Grant)

Few regulations

In Texas, there is no minimum age for purchasing ammunition, no requirement for an ammunition seller to keep a record of the purchaser, and no specific license to buy or sell ammunition, according to the Giffords Law Center.

There are some prohibitions.

Ammunition cannot be sold to a person within five years of their release from confinement for a felony or within five years of the end of their parole or probation for a felony. Also, Texas law prohibits selling ammunition to an intoxicated person. Armor-piercing bullets are outlawed, according to the Giffords Center.

It does not appear the shooter would have violated any law or raised any flags when he purchased and picked up his AR-15 style rifles or bought more than 1,600 bullets, as authorities say he did.

Law enforcement has not said where the shooter purchased his bullets. The Oasis Outback sporting goods store where the gunman got the semiautomatic rifles was tied to a 2009 federal smuggling case.

In 2009, the store sold over 10,000 rounds of .223 ammunition to Fred Farhat, an Eagle Pass business owner. Farhat separately attempted to smuggle the bullets into Mexico, according to federal court records.

Buying and selling such a large number of bullets was not illegal, according to court documents and transcripts. However, moving the bullets across the border required permission from the U.S. Department of State, federal officials said.

Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement tracked Farhat after he made the purchases in Uvalde. They discovered Farhat repackaged the bullets and sold them to a couple who attempted to move them across the border to Piedras Negras. It is not clear how federal authorities were flagged or why they decided to investigate Farhat after he bought the rounds.

Farhat was convicted of conspiring to smuggle the ammunition. He was sentenced to five years in federal prison and three years of supervised release after that. A woman who attempted to drive the bullets across the border pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for the same crime.