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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 1, 1997

Location: Heath High School, West Paducah, Kentucky

Alleged Shooter: Michael Carneal

People Killed: Three

People Injured: Five

Firearm(s): Ruger .22 pistol


Carneal opened fire on students holding a morning prayer circle at his high school. In addition to the pistol, Carneal had two rifles and two shotguns, which he did not use. After the shooting, Carneal dropped his weapons and surrendered. His motive unknown, Carneal pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder and attempted murder charges and is serving a life sentence.

How Firearm(s) Acquired

The weapons were taken by Carneal from a neighbor's garage. The neighbor owned them legally.


  1. James Malone, "Teen-age Gunman Opens Fire in Kentucky School, Killing 2, Wounding 6," Gannett News Service, 1 December 1997.
  2. "Judge OK's $42 million Accord in Case Against Teen Slayer," Associated Press, 6 August 2000.
  3. "Report: Teen Gunman Offers $42 million Settlement," Associated Press, 3 August 2000.

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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.