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10 deadliest US shootings of past decade all involved legally purchased guns

Metro Nashville Police Department

(NEW YORK) — A suspect armed with multiple legally purchased firearms killed three children and three adults at a Tennessee school Monday, authorities said.


The tragic incident marked yet another mass shooting in the United States where the suspected shooter legally bought firearms used in the attack and has sparked renewed calls for gun reform.

The suspect, identified by police as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, was shot and killed by police responding to The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville. Hale had purchased seven firearms from five local gun stores legally, three of which were used in the shooting, Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Tuesday.

“What we need from congressional Republicans is courage,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told ABC News’ “GMA3” on Tuesday. “What do you say to those parents? What do you say to those families? You can’t say to them, ‘There’s nothing else that can be done.’ That’s not what their job is as legislators.”

The weapons used in all 10 of the deadliest mass shootings of the past decade in the U.S. were purchased legally, based on an ABC News analysis.

1. Oct. 1, 2017: Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada
60 deaths

Fifty-eight people were killed and hundreds injured after a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, targeting concertgoers below at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. Two victims additionally succumbed to injuries in the years following the massacre.

The shooter, Stephen Paddock — who had 23 guns, including high-powered rifles, on hand — killed himself in his hotel suite, authorities said. Multiple loaded high-capacity magazines and a modified bump stock rifle, which allows a gun to simulate rapid automatic gunfire, were discovered in the room, law enforcement sources said at the time. Authorities said that Paddock had been stockpiling firearms since 1982 and bought nearly 50 guns legally.

2. June 12, 2016: Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida
49 deaths

A gunman opened fire inside the crowded nightclub at around 2 a.m., killing 49 people and wounding dozens. Many of the victims were Latinx and part of the LGBTQ+ community. The shooter — Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old former security guard — was killed in a shootout by responding police.

Law enforcement sources told ABC News that Mateen had a .223 caliber AR-type rifle and a Glock handgun on him at the time of the shooting, which the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said he bought legally. Mateen legally purchased the guns he had on him within a week of the shooting, despite being known to law enforcement for years, federal officials confirmed.

3. Nov. 5, 2017: First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas
25 deaths

Twenty-five people between the ages of 5 and 72 were killed after a gunman opened fire during a Sunday service. One of the shooting victims was pregnant. The shooter, Devin Kelley, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was chased and shot by two men.

About 18 months before the massacre, Kelley purchased the rifle used in the shooting — an AR-556 model 8500 — in an Academy Sports + Outdoors store in San Antonio. Kelley was disqualified from purchasing the firearm because of domestic violence charges and a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, but was able to make the purchase because that information had not been reported to the FBI and did not come up in a background check, Texas officials said. A civil court found the Air Force 60% responsible for the mass shooting for failing to alert the FBI that Kelley could not legally purchase a gun through its alert system.

4. Aug. 3, 2019: Walmart in El Paso, Texas
23 deaths

Patrick Crusius, 24, reportedly told investigators that he set out to kill as many Mexicans as he could in a mass shooting that ultimately claimed the lives of 23 people. He legally purchased the high-powered assault-style rifle used in the shooting, attorneys for his mother, who contacted police because she was concerned about her son owning the firearm, told ABC News.

Crusius pleaded guilty to dozens of federal charges in the shooting and also faces state charges that could carry the death penalty.

5. May 24, 2022: Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas
21 deaths

Salvador Ramos, 18, shot his grandmother at their home in Uvalde, critically wounding her, before driving to Robb Elementary School and opening fire in a classroom with an AR-15-style rifle, killing 19 students and two teachers and wounding others, police said. He was shot and killed by a responding law enforcement officer. Ramos legally purchased two AR-style rifles on May 17 and May 20, 2022, just days after his 18th birthday, officials said.

6. Feb. 14, 2018: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida
17 deaths

Fourteen children and three staff members were killed after a gunman brought an AR-15 into the high school. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, 23, a former student at the school, bought the AR-15-style rifle used in the attack legally a year before the incident, authorities said. Authorities believe he had access to 10 firearms, all long guns, seven of which he purchased legally, sources said at the time.

Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and was sentenced to life in prison last year.

7. Dec. 2, 2015: Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California
14 deaths

Fourteen people were killed and another 21 injured in a terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center, a facility aimed at providing services for the developmentally disabled. The shooters — Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik — both died in a shootout with law enforcement that day, police said. They were armed with two assault-style weapons and two handguns, all of which were purchased legally, according to law enforcement.

8. Sept. 16, 2013: Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.
12 deaths

Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist, had a documented history of paranoia and mental instability before firing a shotgun at the Navy Yard, killing 12 and injuring several others before responding officers shot and killed him, police said. He passed a federal background check and legally purchased the shotgun from a Virginia gun shop two days before the shooting, officials said.

9. Nov. 7, 2018: Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California
12 deaths

A gunman killed 12 people, including a police officer, after opening fire in a packed bar, before taking his own life, authorities said. The suspect — former U.S. Marine Ian David Long — was armed with a legally purchased Glock 21 .45-caliber handgun that was equipped with an extended ammunition magazine, authorities said.

10. May 31, 2019: Virginia Beach Municipal Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia
12 deaths

The public utilities engineer who gunned down 12 people, including 11 colleagues, at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center before police shot and killed him committed the massacre with legally bought pistols and a gun suppressor, officials said. Investigators said DeWayne Craddock used two .45-caliber pistols, extended ammunition magazines and a gun suppressor — all of which he purchased legally.

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