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Common element of shootings: semiautomatic weapons

By Lisa Hoffman

Scripps Howard News Service

LAST UPDATED: 04:39 p.m. HST, Dec 14, 2012

WASHINGTON >> A common element links many of America’s recent mass shootings: the presence of semiautomatic weapons in the arsenal of the shooters.

After a deadly rampage at a Colorado movie theater, an attack on an Arizona lawmaker and others, the mowing-down of Sikhs at a Wisconsin temple and the mass killings at Virginia Tech, law enforcement found at least one semiautomatic pistol in the possession of the killers.

And, on Friday, authorities said they seized two such weapons at the scene of the horrific slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 small children and six adults died.

In all but one of those tragedies — and in other earlier ones, including a mass shooting in Connecticut 15 years ago — Glock semiautomatic pistols played a role.

The high-power capabilities of Glock pistols, as well as the ease of concealing them, attracts those bent on a high body count, according to criminal-justice experts. They are legally sold in gun shops and online, some for less than $500.

“Not only are semiautomatic pistols capable of rapid fire, they utilize high-capacity magazines and can be quickly reloaded,” said a 2011 report — titled “The Glock Pistol: A Favorite of Mass Shooters” — by the Washington-based Violence Policy Center.

“The combination of these features makes semiautomatic pistols efficient killing machines,” said the report.

Glocks of a variety of models and firepower are also the weapons of choice for personnel in more than 60 percent of U.S. law-enforcement agencies, according to industry data. They are accurate, relatively light and easy to shoot, and pack enough force to cut down threatening suspects.

Glock Inc., the Smyrna, Ga.-based U.S. branch of the Austrian weapons manufacturer, did not return a call for comment.

Among the U.S. mass killings in which Glocks were involved:

— Friday’s killings at the Connecticut elementary school, where police recovered a Glock and a Sig Sauer semiautomatic pistols, along with a .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle.

— The July carnage at a midnight showing of a Batman movie in Aurora, Colo., where James Holmes is accused of killing 12 moviegoers and wounding dozens. Among other weapons, Holmes allegedly wielded a .40-caliber Glock handgun and had another in his car.

— The January 2011 attack outside a Tucson, Ariz., grocery store that critically wounded then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others, and killed six. The convicted shooter, Jared Loughner, carried a Glock 19 pistol, police said.

— The April 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va., in which 32 students and others died, and 17 were wounded. Shooter Seung-Hui Cho, who killed himself, was armed with a Glock 19 pistol and a Walther P22 semiautomatic pistol.

— The November 1999 deaths of seven at a Xerox office building in Honolulu, where Byran Uyesugi wielded a Glock 9 mm pistol.

— The March 1998 rampage at Connecticut State Lottery headquarters, where Matthew Beck used a Glock 9 mm pistol to kill four and himself.

— The October 1991 massacre at a Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, where George Hennard used a Glock 9 mm, along with other handguns, to kill 23 and wound 20. Kennard killed himself as well.

A semiautomatic Springfield 9 mm pistol was the weapon of choice in August, when Wade Michael Page killed six and wounded four at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Page was shot to death by police.

And Anders Behring Brenik relied on a Glock 17 9 mm pistol, as well as a semiautomatic rifle, to mow down 69 people — mostly teenagers — at a youth camp in July 2011 in Norway.

Possession and manufacturing of all of these semiautomatic weapons in the United States are legal, but they largely had been banned for a decade after Congress and President Bill Clinton signed on to the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994. But the law expired in 2004 under President George W. Bush.

President Barack Obama did not address a resurrection of that ban when he spoke about the Connecticut school shootings Friday, but he expressed support for some unspecified measures.

“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this regardless of the politics,” Obama said, choking up during his statement.


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Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
The right to bear arms is one of the oldest, bedrock rights of our nation. OTOH, semi-automatic weapons capable of killing dozens in a matter of moments were not on the minds of the framers of our constitution/bill of rights in those days. The right to bear arms should continue, though in a measured form, outlawing semi-automatic weapons. Allowing only regular (i.e. not semi-automatic, nor automatic) weapons while disallowing semi-automatics (and automatics) will balance both sides: helping to continue to respect the right to bear arms, while also helping to reduce (hopefully eliminate) these senseless, horrifying acts of mass murder.
on December 14,2012 | 03:35PM
false wrote:
Jet Airplanes were not on the minds of the framers of our constitution either.
on December 14,2012 | 05:52PM
DPK wrote:
The common element of all these shootings is the deranged people committing them. Guns don't kill people. People kill people.
on December 14,2012 | 03:41PM
STEVESS369 wrote:
Its the person who has a sick mind not the weapon. If the teachers were armed they could have stopped the deranged individual.
on December 14,2012 | 03:48PM
Ronin006 wrote:
The common element in these mass shootings is not semiautomatic weapons. The common element is sociopaths.
on December 14,2012 | 04:03PM
SteveToo wrote:
You got that right.
on December 14,2012 | 08:24PM
Waterman2 wrote:
Before that it was revolvers........, before that it was the blunderbuss, before that the long ax, the long sword, and on and on............. It ain't the gun or any other weapon, poison, etc. , it is the nut holding it. All through history and long before guns there were mass killers, some powerful leaders, kings, emperors. Nut cases like this use what is available in the time in which they live. The prevalence of these action in any particular time is related to the strength of the society. Our society is not so strong right now. In my humble opinion it is because we refuse to face the realities of life and do stupid stuff like nut showing our kids that life can be hard, thus leading them into unrealistic expectations, when these expectations are not achieved kids get weird. So I got an idea: let's out law nut cases......and you are the first one !
on December 14,2012 | 06:55PM
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