Since 1982, there have been 114 massive shootings in the U.S., many of them affiliated guns to buy legally.
In the aftermath of a fixed shooting, a recurring question arises: exactly how did the shooter get the gun?

In most cases, the perpetrator legally to buy the weapons in question.

You are watching: How many mass shooters bought guns legally


Since 1982, there have been 114 fixed shootings in the U.S.

Luis Melgar, WAMU / WAMU

Of the 114 mass shootings cursed in the U.S. Because 1982, 85 (or 74%) affiliated firearms acquired by legitimate means, as displayed in this analysis of the mass shooting database developed by news company .


74% the the shootings affiliated firearms purchase legally.

Luis Melgar / WAMU

What’s thought about a “mass shooting”?

There is no standard an interpretation of what constitutes a massive shooting, which have the right to make evaluating mass shooting events difficult. It can also lead to various results in researches of fixed shootings. Much more on the here.

The mom Jones data used for this visual specifies mass shootings as public attacks in which the shooter and also victims were normally unknown to every other, and also four or more people were killed. The data set excludes every multiple murders concerned drugs, gangs or domestic violence.

Where go the remainder of the weapons come from?

Seventeen of the guns used in mass shootings in the last 36 year — about 15% — were acquired in other ways:

In eight cases shooters take it their weapons from family members members In four cases they were purchased illegal In three cases they to be stolen Inone case the shooter illegally kept his gun ~ loosing his state weapons license, which compelled him come surrender his firearm and in one case the shooter illegally constructed their own guns

74 + 15 does no equal 100. What around the various other 10%?

In 12 that the mass shootings — roughly 10.5% — us don’t know exactly how the shooter obtained their firearms.

In the instance of the shooter in Dayton, Ohio, he supplied a legal 100-round drum magazine attached to his gun, v which the fired 41 shots in 30 seconds.


Most that the firearms used in mass shootings were bought legally.

Luis Melgar / WAMU

Some other national studies on just how mass shooters gained their guns

While we began with data from mom Jones for this visual, there are many other research studies that assistance our findings and can carry out further resources.

For example, The new York Times freshly studied 19 fixed shootings and found the in the vast majority ( more than 75%) the instances the guns used were bought legally with a federal background check. This team does not include the Tree the Life Synagogue shoot in Pittsburgh, but the ATF finish the alleged perpetrator of that shooting legitimate purchased the 10 firearms he owned, consisting of those allegedly offered in the shooting.

Last October, The Washington article studied 156 public mass shootings in the U.S. Dating ago to 1966 and also found that 77%of the firearms used (where there was details on just how the gun to be obtained) were bought legally.

In June 2018, the FBI studied dozens of energetic shooting incidents in between 2000 and 2013 and also found the only 2%of the active shooters learned purchased weapons illegally.

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The data to be compiled by mother Jones and also was updated by guns & America. In part cases, extr reporting argued changes to how Mother Jones had actually categorized the method the shooters used to obtain the weapons used.