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Where'd They Get Their Guns?

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

Date: November 14, 1991

Location: Royal Oak Post Office, Royal Oak, Michigan

Alleged Shooter: Thomas McIlvane

People Killed: Five (shooter committed suicide)

People Injured: Five

Firearm(s): Ruger .22 rifle


McIlvane had been fired from the postal service for alleged time-card fraud. His dismissal was upheld by an arbitrator less than a week before the shooting. According to coworkers, McIlvane was seeking revenge when he returned to the post office and opened fire, killing four of his former colleagues and wounding five, before turning the gun on himself.

How Firearm(s) Acquired

The rifle was illegal. McIlvane was prohibited from owning firearms because he was dishonorably discharged from the Marines, allegedly for running over a car with a tank. Because there was no background check required at the time, McIlvane was able to buy the gun at a gun store by simply not disclosing his dishonorable discharge.


  1. Doron P. Levin, "Slayings at Michigan Post Office Spur a Review of All Employees," New York Times, 16 November 1991, sec. A, p. 6.
  2. "Other Shootings at U.S. Workplaces," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 27 December 2000, sec. A, p. 15.
  3. "Shooting Kills 3 at Post Office; Fired Worker Also Wounds Himself," Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 15 November 1991, sec. A, p. 5.
  4. Doron P. Levin, "Ex-Postal Worker Kills 3 and Wounds 6 in Michigan," New York Times, 15 November 1991, sec. A, p. 14.

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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.