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Where'd They Get Their Guns?

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

Date: February 7, 2001

Location: The White House, Washington, DC

Alleged Shooter: Robert W. Pickett

People Killed: None

People Injured: One (shooter wounded by Secret Service)

Firearm(s): .38 revolver


Pickett was shot in the leg by a Secret Service officer after allegedly firing his .38 revolver just outside the south fence of the White House. Secret Service officers ordered Pickett to drop his revolver, but instead he allegedly pointed his weapon at the uniformed officers, apparently intending to commit suicide by forcing the officers to shoot him. He was shot in the knee.

How Firearm(s) Acquired

The revolver was purchased legally on February 24, 2000, from Casey's Pawn Shop in Evansville, Indiana, after Pickett passed the instant criminal background check. Pickett had a history of mental illness and had made at least one previous suicide attempt, but had never been committed to a mental institution involuntarily, so he was not legally prohibited from purchasing a handgun.


  1. "Pickett Passed Gun Check Despite Mental Problems," Memphis Commercial Appeal, 9 February 2001, sec. A, p. 4.
  2. Bill Miller, "White House Suspect Faces Federal Charge," Washington Post, 10 February 2001, sec. B, p. 1.
  3. David Montgomery and Serge Kovaleski, "Depression Plagued White House Gunman," Washington Post, 9 February 2001, sec. A, p. 1.
  4. Kimberly Hefling, "Gunman Passed Background Checks," Associated Press, 8 February 2001.


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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.