Elderly Gautier veteran faces prison on gun charges

Travis Coy Rayborn
Travis Coy Rayborn

GULFPORT -- A 76-year-old Gautier man faces up to 10 years in prison for possessing a firearm after having been committed to a mental institution.

Travis Coy Rayborn, a retired veteran, will be sentenced July 28 in U.S. District Court.

Rayborn has accepted a plea agreement involving a .22-caliber revolver he had pulled out in Gautier on Aug. 29, 2015, while allegedly impaired.

Rayborn had come to the attention of federal agents months earlier, when he tried to buy a 20-gauge shotgun at the Keesler Air Force Base Main Exchange on March 11, 2015. Court documents show he made false statements on his application, claiming he had never had an involuntary mental-health commitment.

A Baldwin County, Ala., judge had ordered Rayborn committed to a state mental institution in December 2014. The hearing was the day after Rayborn's arrest on a charge of domestic violence third degree.

The commitment showed up on a background check in his firearm application at Keesler.

Federal agents arrested him after an indictment was filed last October. The grand jury added more charges in March.

The new charges alleged Rayborn also tried to buy a .22-caliber revolver from Discount Pawn in Vancleave on Feb. 28, 2015, and included the revolver Gautier police found him with six months later.

Rayborn was set for trial this week. He accepted a plea agreement April 15, court records show.

Prosecutors had subpoenaed the director of the Mary Starke Harper Geriatric Psychiatry Center in Alabama to provide Rayborn's medical records. The Alabama Department of Mental Health had asked the subpoena be canceled, citing privacy laws and Rayborn's refusal to allow his records to be shared.

Also, a public defender had filed a motion asking that evidence from his commitment hearing be excluded from trial. Rayborn's wife had testified in 2014 that he was mentally ill and dangerous, said he had assaulted her several times in the past and he owned several weapons, the motion said.

Ozerden had not ruled on those motions before Rayborn accepted a plea.

Federal gun control laws prohibit gun dealers from selling firearms to people who have been involuntarily committed, found incompetent to stand trial or deemed by a court to be a danger to themselves or others.

Applications for gun purchases ask potential buyers if they fall in one of those categories. Making false statements to get a gun is a federal offense.