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Where'd They Get Their Guns?

An Analysis of the Firearms Used in High-Profile Shootings, 1963 to 2001

Date: September 14, 1989

Location: Standard Gravure Corp., Louisville, Kentucky

Alleged Shooter: Joseph T. Wesbecker

People Killed: Nine (shooter committed suicide)

People Injured: 12

Firearm(s): Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifle, two MAC-11 assault pistols, .38 revolver, and a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol


Wesbecker had a long history of mental instability and was placed on permanent disability leave due to mental illness by the printing plant where his killing spree eventually took place. Wesbecker went from floor to floor, killing eight and wounding 12 with his AK-47, before taking his own life.

How Firearm(s) Acquired

Wesbecker acquired all of his weapons legally. He bought his principal firearm, the AK-47, from Tilford's Gun Sales in Louisville. Despite his mental condition, the purchases were legal because his treatment had been voluntary.


  1. Ted M. Natt, Jr., "Disgruntled Employee Kills Seven, Wounds 13, Takes Own Life," Associated Press, 15 September 1989.
  2. "Mentally Disabled Killer of 7 Bought Rifle Legally," The Los Angeles Times, 16 September 1989, p. 22.
  3. Nicholas M. Horrock and Michael Tackett, "Louisville Gunman Got Arsenal Legally; Mental Instability Difficult to Trace," Chicago Tribune, 18 September 1989, p. 4.
  4. "Union Officials Ask for Workplace Violence Task Force," Associated Press, 23 September 1999.

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 All contents � 2001 Violence Policy Center


The Violence Policy Center is a national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals. The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related death and injury.