For Release: Tuesday, December 7, 1999
News reports identify the handgun used in the December 6, 1999 middle school shooting in Ft. Gibson, OK as a Taurus 9mm semiautomatic pistol with a 15-round magazine, sold in 1993. Although the precise model has not yet been publicly identified, examination of the company’s product line indicates that the gun is most likely the Taurus Model PT-92 or an almost identical variant, the PT-99.
Taurus is a Brazilian company with an import and manufacturing facility in Miami, Florida. Among other distinctions, Taurus produced the .40 S&W semiautomatic pistol with which Andrew Cunanan in 1997 allegedly killed fashion designer Gianni Versace and subsequently took his own life in Miami, Florida.1 Taurus addresses are:
Taurus International Manufacturing
16175 Northwest 49th Ave.
Miami, FL 33014
Taurus S.A. Forjas
Avenida Do Forte 511
RS Brazil 91360
Taurus “Wonder-Nine” High-Capacity Semiautomatic Pistols
The Model PT-92 9mm pistol has been the mainstay of Taurus’ high-capacity pistol line throughout the 1990s. (It also sells a version of the same pistol with upgraded, adjustable sights, which it calls the PT-99). The term “high-capacity” (which the company also calls “large-capacity”) refers to the 15-round capacity of the gun’s ammunition magazine or “clip.” The company calls this line of pistols “Wonder-Nines” in its most recent catalog, and boasts that they “have long been recognized for their outstanding attributes, including their inherent shootability.'”
Taurus Guns “Overrepresented” 14 Times in Crimes
According to expert testimony in the landmark Hamilton v. Accu-Tek lawsuit in Brooklyn, New York, from 1989 to 1994, Taurus was “fourteen times overrepresented in…guns used in crime relative to what you would expect just from its share of production. That’s a very dramatic difference, indeed.”2 In 1997 the Taurus PT-92 was traced to crime scenes 617 times by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Taurus an Example of Foreign Handgun Imports
Taurus aptly represents the modern trend of foreign manufacturers selling handguns in the United States that they could not sell in their own countries.
About a third of the handguns sold in the United States every year are imported from abroad. Brazil ranked first among foreign companies shipping handguns to the United States between 1985 and 1995 (after which it slipped to second place behind the Austrian company Glock). Taurus began shipping handguns to the United States in 1968 after the Brazilian government “imposed restrictive handgun control legislation that greatly cut into Taurus’ [domestic] market.”3 Virtually all of the company’s production of 9mm semiautomatic pistols is exported because Brazilian law forbids civilian ownership of such guns.4
1) Telephone interview by Violence Policy Center staff with Miami Beach Police Department detective; “Cunanan found dead amid sodas, handguns,” The Miami Herald (August 6, 1997).
2) Testimony of Jonathan Daniel Portes, special consultant to National Economic Research Associates, January 26, 1999, Hamilton v. Accu-Tek (trial transcript, p. 2443).
3) “Taurus Shoots for the Top!” Guns & Ammo (May 1986), p. 46, 48.
4) “Taurus Shoots for the Top!” Guns & Ammo (May 1986), p. 46, 49.