Mass shootings in the U.S.: legality of shooter's weapons, as of August 2019

82 of the mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and August 2019 involved weapons which were obtained legally; a clear majority. Only 16 incidents involved guns that were obtained illegally.

Legally owned firearms in the U.S.

Within the United States, one must be at least 18 years old in order to purchase shotguns, rifles, and ammunition, and at least 21 years old to purchase all other firearms. Some people may be restricted from owning firearms, such as individuals who have been dishonorably discharged from the military or tourists. Guns must be sold through licensed dealers, and purchasers must undergo a background check. However, the much-discussed “gun show loophole” allows people to purchase firearms from a flea market, gun show, online, or from a personal collector without a background check.

The national firearm conversation

The right to own a gun in the United States is protected by the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. While changing a part of the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the Constitution) would be extremely difficult, the issue of gun rights has become a highly controversial, and highly partisan, topic in the national conversation. For example, a majority of Republicans believe that if legal gun ownership is controlled, that there will not be a difference in the number of mass shootings. In contrast, most Democrats believe the number will decrease.
Welcome to Statista!

We are the global leading platform for business data from 600 industries and 50 countries.

Our 700 employees believe that facts cause big changes and promote brilliant ideas. We want to offer you the best basis for fast and effective decisions: Learn more.
Number of mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and August 2019, by legality of shooter's weapons
Number of incidents
Legally obtained82
Illegally obtained16
Unknown/to be determined14
Some weapons were legally obtained others possibly illegally1
Loading statistic...
You need to log in to download this statistic
Register for free
Already a member?
Log in
Statista Accounts: Access All Statistics. Starting from $588 / Year
Basic Account
Get to know the platform

You only have access to basic statistics.
This statistic is not included in your account!

Premium Account
Your perfect start with Statista
  • Instant access to 1m statistics
  • Download in XLS, PDF & PNG format
  • Detailed references

$49 / Month *

Corporate Account
Full access

Corporate solution including all features.

* All products require an annual contract.
   Prices do not include sales tax.
Leading companies trust Statista:
Related Studies: Available to Download in PDF or PPTX Format
Violent crime in the United States
Violent crime in the United States

All Information
in one Presentation

Violent crime in the United States

Everything On "Violent crime in the United States" in One Document: Edited and Divided into Handy Chapters. Including Detailed References.

Other Reports & Dossiers
Statista has been my savior on several occasions. The site is easy to maneuver and the data is in a format that can go right into a report or presentation.
Marlene Greenfield

Marlene Greenfield
Vice President, Hearst Magazines

Statistics on "Firearms in the United States"
  • Firearm ownership
  • Firearm production and sale
  • Firearm related crime, deaths and injuries
The most important statistics
  • Public opinion on firearms
Discover Statista
Need help with using Statista for your research? Tutorials and first steps
Further Content: Statistics, Studies, and Topic Pages
Do you have any questions about our business solutions?

We provide you with detailed information about our Corporate Account.

Statista Accounts: Access All Statistics. Starting from $588 / Year
Learn more about how Statista can support your business.