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.
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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
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