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Where'd They Get Their Guns?

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

Date: May 28, 1998

Location: Los Angeles, California

Alleged Shooter: Brynn Hartman

People Killed: Two (shooter committed suicide)

People Injured: None

Firearm(s): Two .38 revolvers


Actor/comedian Phil Hartman was shot and killed by his wife Brynn with a .38 revolver. She had a history of substance abuse and mental instability, and had been through several rehabilitation programs. Toxicologists found that Brynn Hartman had consumed alcohol and cocaine the night of the shooting. After shooting Hartman, she confessed to a neighbor who called the police. After the police arrived, she killed herself with the second revolver.

How Firearm(s) Acquired

One gun was a recent birthday gift from Phil Hartman to his wife�she wanted a gun to protect their family while he was away from home. The other belonged to Hartman. Both handguns were legal.


  1. Marilyn Beck, "Hartman Gave Wife Gun; Pistol as B'day Gift, �LA Thing,'" Daily News (New York), 30 May 1998, p. 5.
  2. Keith Morrison,, "What Went Wrong? Friends of Brynn Hartman Discuss her Darker Side That May Have Caused Her to Kill Her Husband, Phil, and Herself," Dateline NBC, 8 June 1998.
  3. "Comedian Slain; Wife Kills Herself," The Houston Chronicle, 29 May 1998, sec. A, p. 1.

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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.