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Where'd They Get Their Guns?

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

Date: December 8, 1980

Location: New York, New York Alleged

Shooter: Mark David Chapman

People Killed: One

People Injured: None

Firearm(s): Charter Arms .38 revolver


Mark David Chapman, who had a history of severe emotional problems, traveled from his home in Hawaii to New York City to kill John Lennon. Chapman had been a Beatles fan in his youth and was described by a former classmate as a "Jesus freak."

How Firearm(s) Acquired

Chapman purchased the gun legally in Hawaii. Because he had no criminal record and had never been committed to a mental institution, he was issued a permit. At the time of the shooting, Hawaii had some of the most stringent gun regulations in the nation.


  1. Bill Prochnau, "A Strange Young Man Who Stopped the Music," The Washington Post, 10 December 1980, sec. A, p. 18.
  2. Rick Hampson, "John Lennon's Death Still Touches Many Lives," Associated Press, 5 December 1981.
  3. Rick Hampson, "Former Beatle John Lennon Slayed by Gunman," Associated Press, 9 December 1980.
  4. David Cobb Craig, "Arsenal: Moments of Madness Came Far Too Often," Time, Fall 1989 special issue.

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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.