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Where'd They Get Their Guns?

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

Date: January 17, 1989

Location: Cleveland Elementary School, Stockton, California

Alleged Shooter: Patrick Edward Purdy

People Killed: Six (shooter committed suicide)

People Injured: 30

Firearm(s): Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifle, Taurus 9mm pistol, and another unidentified pistol


Purdy, who had expressed his dislike for Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans, opened fire on an elementary schoolyard full of Asian-American children, firing 106 rounds, killing five and wounding 30 before taking his own life.

How Firearm(s) Acquired

All firearms were purchased legally, despite Purdy's criminal record. Because he had not been convicted of any felonies�his one felony charge, a robbery, was plea-bargained to a misdemeanor�Purdy was able to purchase his guns. Purdy bought the AK-47 rifle at the Sandy Trading Post, in Sandy, Oregon, on August 3, 1988. State law in Oregon at the time allowed assault rifles to be sold without any waiting period and with minimal paperwork. The 9mm pistol was bought at Hunter Loan and Jewelry Co., a Stockton, California, pawn shop, on December 28, 1988.


  1. Jay Mathews, "Schoolyard Massacre Refuels Drive for Stricter Gun Control, " The Washington Post, 20 January 1989, sec. A, p. 3.
  2. Jay Mathews and Matt Lait, "Rifleman Slays Five at School," The Washington Post, 18 January 1989, sec. A, p. 1.
  3. John Hurst and Stephen Braun, "Rifle Used in Carnage �Easier to Buy Than Handguns,'" Los Angeles Times, 18 January 1989, sec. 1, p. 3.
  4. Josh Sugarmann, National Rifle Association: Money, Firepower & Fear, (Washington, DC: National Press Books, 1992): 201.

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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.