Jan. 27, 2010— -- When police in New Jersey reported they had discovered a grenade launcher among other weapons including two assault rifles in the hotel room of the man they had arrested a short time before, it was that possibly military-grade weapon that shot to the front headlines across the country.
Though investigators later determined the device was actually a Cobray 37mm flare launcher, many were left with a simple question: How does someone get their hands on a grenade launcher?
According to an FBI investigator, the suspect, Lloyd R. Woodson, 43 said he purchased the rifles "on the streets of New York."
But for a grenade launcher, depending on a customer's state of residence, street connections aren't necessary. Often just a phone, a permit and a little patience will do.
To see what the procedure is like for a citizen to purchase a grenade launcher, ABC News contacted an online seller by phone.
According to the seller, as long as the customer lives in a state that allows grenade launchers and can get an ATF permit, they should not have a problem purchasing a grenade launcher.
Customers can order it from the online seller who would then ship the weapon to a local dealer in that state. The customer could pay the seller directly by credit card but pick up the weapon from the dealer. The customer has to fill out some paperwork in order to get the ATF permit.
It would take about two and a half months for the launcher to be shipped to the dealer, the seller said. For this particular deal, if the customer buys in bulk the deal would be done with free shipping.
The color selection, however, was limited.
According to the Justice Department, the grenade launcher is considered a "destructive device" and therefore falls under the National Firearm Act and requires transfer approval from the administration.
Woodson is facing charges related to the two rifles in his possession. As a felon due to another gun-related incident in the mid-90s, Woodson cannot legally possess a firearm, officials at the U.S. Attorney's New Jersey District said. The rifles were also in violation of the state's assault weapon ban, which spurred multiple state charges.
A map of Fort Drum in northern New York was also discovered among the weapons and equipment in Woodson's supposed cache. The base issued a statement in response which said officers were "confident" in the base security and there was "no threat as a result of this incident."
It's a fortunate outcome because for many, with all the firepower available to Woodson the question right on the heels of how? Is what if?