Guns used have become standard in mass shootings
Published 8:36 pm, Friday, December 14, 2012
The guns recovered at the scene, two pistols and a semi-automatic rifle, are the types that have become standard weapons of recent mass-shooting incidents.
The two pistols, a Glock and a Sig Sauer, are popular with law enforcement officers and the military. The semi-automatic rifle, a variation of the AR-15 (which is itself modeled on the U.S. military's Vietnam-era standard M-16), is made by Bushmaster in Ilion, N.Y., near Utica.
The weapons were purchased legally by the alleged shooter's mother, according to reports
Capable of holding a 30-round magazine, it was the weapon of choice of the D.C. sniper, John Allen Muhammad, who was executed in Virginia for his reign of terror in 2002 in which he killed 10 victims at random along with his young accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo.
Because the Connecticut shooter, Adam Lanza, killed so many people in such a short time, firearms experts wondered whether he used high-capacity magazines _ the kind favored by James Holmes at his movie theater shooting spree in Aurora, Colo., last July, which killed 12 and wounded 57.
Six states, including California and New York, either ban or limit the use of high-capacity magazines.
Most models of the Glock and Sig Sauer have a normal magazine capacity of up to 15 rounds, according to the manufacturer's Web sites. With larger magazines, the capacity can rise above 30 rounds.
Both guns are lightweight, made of synthetic polymers to ease the recoil that is emblematic of larger handguns such as the vintage Colt .45 automatic, which was the standard military sidearm for most of the 20th Century until the Pentagon replaced it with the sleeker, lighter Beretta in the 1980s.
Tom Diaz, a senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center, which advocates for gun control, said shooters of such weapons don't need high-capacity magazines to inflict incredible damage.
''Whether Glock or Sig Sauer, it's the number of rounds and ease of reloading that makes them so lethal,'' he said. ''If you can reload and you have 4-5 magazines, you've got firepower to unload a hundred rounds.''
With such weapons, Diaz said, a mass murderer doesn't ''need a hundred-round drums'' similar to what Holmes used in Aurora.