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High-Capacity Semiautomatic Handguns: Weapon of Choice for US Mass Shooters

A deadly common thread runs through spate of rampage shootings in the US

Common Dreams staff

Wade Michael Page, the Wisconsin gunman who opened fire inside a Sikh Temple during Sunday services this weekend, joins a string of men in recent US history -- guided by rage, insanity, or some combination of both -- who acted alone with murderous results. But Page had more in common with those men than just the urge and capacity to execute such a hideous act: he had the same perfectly designed weapon they had, too.

Like Seung-hui Cho, the Virginia Tech University student who killed 32 people and then himself in 2007, Jared Loughner who killed six people in Arizona in 2011, and James Holmes who murdered twelve in a Colorado movie theater last month, Wade Michael Page on Sunday carried out his assault with a highly concealable, high capacity semiautomatic handgun.

According to a Reuters report and based on new details emerging from the weekend tragedy, Page's gun, a Springfield 9mm, was purchased legally at a Wisconsin gun shop and was likely chosen, experts say, for being "adaptable to using high-capacity magazines."

Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit group that advocates to reduce gun violence, told Reuters these kinds of guns -- especially when using the high-capacity clips available for them -- allow the shooters to fire the maximum number of bullets in a short period of time.

"There is no valid reason for civilians to have assault rifles, semiautomatic handguns and high-capacity magazines," he said. "We have to start ratcheting down the firepower in civilian hands in the United States."

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