Mass shooters exploited gun laws, loopholes before carnage

The suspects in the shootings at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, were both just 18 years old, authorities say, when they bought the guns used in the shootings. attacks. They were too young to buy alcohol or cigarettes legally, but old enough to arm themselves with assault weapons.

They are just the latest suspected US mass shooters whose ability to obtain firearms has raised concerns. Some shooters have obtained guns legally under current gun laws, or because of failed background checks or law enforcement ignoring warnings of concerning behavior.


Here’s how some suspects in shootings where at least 10 people were killed got their guns:

UVALDE, TEXAS: MAY 24, 2022. 21 DEAD.

Salvador Ramos legally purchased two firearms in the days leading up to the attack that killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School – an AR-style rifle from a federally licensed arms dealer in the Uvalde area on May 17 and a second rifle on May 20. Ramos made the purchases just days after turning 18, the minimum age required by federal law to purchase a gun. He also purchased several hundred cartridges. At least one of the rifles was modeled after the US Army’s M4 carbine rifle, but without the M4’s ability to switch to full automatic mode or fire a three-round burst. Ramos was killed at school by a Border Patrol team.

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BUFFALO, NEW YORK: MAY 14, 2022. 10 DEAD.

Payton Gendron legally purchased the Bushmaster XM-15 E2S used in the attack on Tops Friendly Market from a federally licensed arms dealer near his home in Conklin, New York, about 200 miles southeast from Buffalo. In an online journal that surfaced after the attack, Gendron said he bought the AR-15-style weapon in January, purchased a shotgun in December, and received a rifle as a Christmas present from his father when he was 16. Last year, Gendron was taken to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation under a state mental health law after writing “murder-suicide” in response to a teacher’s question. New York is one of 19 states with red flag laws that allow courts to take firearms from people in immediate danger, but that didn’t happen with Gendron, who was 17 at the time. the time. State police called his threat “general in nature.” Gendron is charged with murder.

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BOULDER, COLORADO: MARCH 22, 2021. 10 DEAD.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa purchased a Ruger AR-556 pistol, a semi-automatic weapon with a capacity of up to 30 rounds, six days before the King Soopers grocery store shooting, police said. Alissa was prone to a sudden rage and was convicted of assault and sentenced to probation for attacking a high school classmate. Colorado has a universal background check law covering nearly all gun sales, but that offense wouldn’t have stopped it from buying a gun, experts said. If it had been a crime, federal law would have prohibited its purchase. A judge ruled that Alissa was mentally incapable of standing trial.

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EL PASO, TEXAS, AUGUST. 3, 2019. 23 DEAD.

Patrick Crusius bought an AK-47 type rifle and 1,000 hollow point cartridges online 45 days before entering a Walmart store and opening fire, killing 23 people and injuring two dozen others, before to admit he was targeting Mexicans, according to prosecutors. A lawyer for the Crusius family said his mother raised concerns about the purchase in a June 27 police call. Police said they asked if Crusius, then 21, was old enough to buy a gun. Police said they were sure he was, if he passed a background check, and had seen no recent changes in his behavior. He is charged with Texas capital murder and federal hate crimes and firearms offenses.

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VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA: MAY 31, 2019. 12 DEAD.

Former Virginia Beach city employee DeWayne Craddock legally purchased six firearms in the three years before the opening of fire at a city building, including the two .45 caliber pistols used during the ‘offensive. A city-commissioned review of the shooting found that Craddock showed no warning signs or “prohibited behaviors associated with a pathway to violence” and had no known history of mental health treatment. Craddock was killed by the police. ___

THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA: NOV. 7, 2018. 12 DEAD.

Ian David Long, a former Marine gunner who served in Afghanistan, used a legally purchased .45 caliber pistol with an extended magazine in the shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill. Months before the shooting, sheriff’s deputies called to Long’s home found him acting irrationally, but a mental health specialist did not feel he should be involuntarily committed. California has a red flag law, but there is no indication authorities have sought a court order to remove Long’s guns. Suicide for a long time.

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PITTSBURGH: OCT. 27, 2018. 11 DEAD.

Robert Gregory Bowers was licensed to carry and legally owned the Colt AR-15 SP1 and three Glock .357 handguns. Police said he used to kill worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Bowers spent months posting rants against Jews on Gab, a social media site favored by right-wing extremists. He also posted pictures of his “glock family”. Just before the attack, he posted a screed against a Jewish organization, saying “Screw your optics, I’m in”. None of the lyrics seemed to raise any red flags. His case is pending. ___

SANTA FE, TEXAS: MAY. 18, 2018. 10 DEAD.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, a 17-year-old student, used a shotgun and a .38 caliber handgun that his father purchased legally and stored in a closet at their home, authorities said. Before the attack, Pagourtzis posted on social media a photo of a t-shirt with the phrase “Born to Kill” and had writing indicating that he planned to attack his high school. A judge sent him to a mental health facility after ruling he was unfit to stand trial.

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PARKLAND, FLORIDA: FEB. 14, 2018. 17 DEAD.

Nikolas Cruz legally purchased a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle in February 2017 from an authorized dealer a few miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, authorities said. He had been treated at a mental health clinic, but had not been there for over a year. Federal law prohibits the purchase of firearms if a court declares a person “mentally incompetent” or prohibits it from an institution, but not if the person seeks medical treatment voluntarily. Cruz was 19 at the time of the shooting. He pleaded guilty and is expected to be sentenced next month. ___

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TEXAS: NOV. 5, 2017. 25 DEAD.

Devin Patrick Kelley’s history of domestic violence prevented him from buying guns. He was able to do this because information about his crimes was never entered into a federal database used for background checks. The Air Force did not follow rules requiring it to inform the FBI of its conduct. Kelley purchased four firearms, including an AR-15-style rifle found at First Baptist Church, from authorized dealers in Texas and Colorado over a four-year period. Kelley committed suicide. ___

LAS VEGAS: OCT. 1, 2017. 58 DEAD.

Stephen Paddock bought 33 of 49 guns found in his hotel room and home the year before a country music festival opened fire. Paddock passed all background checks. His gradual accumulation of weapons went undetected because federal law does not require licensed gun dealers to alert the government to gun purchases. Paddock committed suicide. ___

ORLANDO, FL: JUNE 12, 2016. 49 DEAD.

Omar Mateen purchased an AR-15 style rifle, a Sig Sauer MCX and a handgun from an authorized dealer on separate days about a week before the Pulse nightclub attack. He passed a background check and had a security license that allowed him to be armed while on duty. The FBI investigated Mateen in 2013 and 2014 over concerns from colleagues that he had spoken of ties to terrorist groups. Neither investigation resulted in charges. Even though he had been placed on a terrorism watch list, Congress in 2015 rejected attempts to prevent those on the list from buying guns. Mateen was killed by the police.

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SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA: DEC. 2, 2015. 14 DEAD.

Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, used weapons that the FBI said his neighbor, Enrique Marquez, lawfully purchased from an authorized dealer in 2011 and 2012. Marquez pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to supply a supporting terrorists and making false statements to acquire a firearm. He told investigators that Farook asked him to buy the guns because he would attract less attention. Farook and Malik were killed by the police.

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ROSEBURG, OREGON: OCT. 1, 2015. 10 DEAD.

Christopher Harper-Mercer and his family members legally purchased the handguns and rifle used in the Umpqua Community College shooting from an authorized dealer. Investigators found six firearms at the college and eight in an apartment. Neighbors said Harper-Mercer and her mother went to shoot together. Harper-Mercer committed suicide after being injured by police.

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WASHINGTON: SEPT. 16, 2013. 12 DEAD.

Aaron Alexis, a former reservist turned civilian contractor, passed background checks and legally purchased the shotgun used in the Washington Navy Yard shooting despite recent mental health treatment and a history of violent outbursts. He has already fired a gun twice in anger, but has not been prosecuted in either case. Alexis was killed by the police.

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NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT: DEC. 14, 2012. 26 DEAD.

Adam Lanza used his mother’s weapons, including a .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle, in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Lanza’s mother, whom he shot and killed before going to school, also bought the ammunition. Lanza committed suicide. ___

AURORA, COLORADO: JULY 20, 2012. 12 DEAD.

James Holmes was receiving psychiatric treatment when he passed the required federal checks and legally purchased the guns he used in his movie assault. As in the Parkland and Navy Yard cases, the treatment alone did not stop him from buying guns. He was convicted and sentenced to 12 life sentences and thousands of years in prison.

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