Violence Policy Center


IndexOnline NewsPress ReleasesFact SheetsPublicationsLinksHomeAbout VPC
Looking for something?

Where'd They Get Their Guns?

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

Date: July 24, 1998

Location: U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, DC

Alleged Shooter: Russell Weston, Jr.

People Killed: Two

People Injured: Two (shooter wounded by police)

Firearm(s): Smith & Wesson .38 revolver


Weston, a man with a history of serious mental illness who often fantasized that he was being pursued by government agents, allegedly shot his way into the U.S. Capitol building. After allegedly killing Jacob Chestnut, a uniformed U.S. Capitol police officer, he ran into the building and allegedly killed John Gibson, a Capitol police special agent assigned to protect Majority Whip Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX). Weston was subsequently wounded by police and captured.

How Firearm(s) Acquired

The handgun used in the shooting was legal. Weston had taken the revolver from his father, along with a shotgun. Authorities found a .22 caliber handgun, gunpowder, and ammunition in Weston's Montana cabin. Though Weston had once been in a mental institution in Montana, he was still able to obtain a firearms permit in Illinois.


  1. Ray Rivera, "Should Mentally Ill Have Right To Guns? Tricky Question Stumps Psychiatrists, Police, Lawmakers," The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 January 1999, sec. C, p. 1.
  2. "Guns, Spy Manual At Weston's Cabin," Chattanooga Free Press, 4 August 1998, sec. A, p. 1.
  3. Garry Wills, "Awash in Guns," Las Vegas Review-Journal, 4 August 1998, sec. B, p. 7.
  4. David Von Drehle, et al., "Descent Into Fear, Rage Ended at Capitol; A Troubled Mind Drifts to Violence at the Capitol; Shooting Suspect Lived a Life Adrift," The Washington Post, 26 July 1998, sec. A, p. 1.
  5. Pam Belluck, "Capitol Hill Slayings: The Family," New York Times, 27 July 1998, sec. A, p. 1.
  6. Michael Grunwald and Cheryl Thompson, "Weston Charged With Murder in Rampage; Ex- Mental Patient Downgraded to Critical Condition," Washington Post, 26 July 1998, sec. A, p. 1.


Back to Table of Contents




 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.