For Immediate Release
Violence Policy Center Backgrounder on Pistols Used in Isla Vista Shooting
WASHINGTON - The killer in the Isla Vista shooting on May 23, 2014 owned three 9mm semiautomatic handguns, including two Sig Sauer P226 pistols and one Glock 34 pistol. Semiautomatic weapons are the type of firearm most commonly used in mass shootings.
Below are important facts about the pistols used in the Isla Vista shooting, the manufacturers who made them, and the financial links between these two manufacturers and the National Rifle Association. Experts from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) are available if reporters need additional information.
Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, states: “The tragedy in Isla Vista is just the latest example of the human price paid on a daily basis for an unregulated gun industry that has embraced ever-increasing lethality as the way to make a profit. The gun industry is marketing weapons originally designed for military and law enforcement to the civilian population. Its financial beneficiaries in the NRA then fight to stop any and all effective gun violence prevention policies. The rest of us are caught in the crossfire when these weapons are used in mass shootings.”
Key facts on the guns used in Isla Vista:
- The Austrian Glock 34 pistol has an extended barrel for greater accuracy. Glock pistols are frequently used by mass shooters, as explained in this 2011 VPC backgrounderThe Glock Pistol: A Favorite of Mass Shooters.
- Elliot Rodger, the Isla Vista shooter, wrotein his manifesto: “I had already done some research on handguns, and I decided to purchase the Glock 34 semiautomatic pistol, an efficient and highly accurate weapon. I signed all of the papers and was told that my pickup day was in mid-December.”
- The shooter also owned two Swiss Sig Sauer P226 pistols. Rodger wrote that the Sig was “more efficient” than the Glock.
- Both Sig Sauer and Glock are “Corporate Partners” of the National Rifle Association. As detailed in the VPC’s 2013 study Blood Money II: How Gun Industry Dollars Fund the NRA, since 2005, Glock has given between $250,000 and $499,999 to the NRA (the range is due to the giving levels defined within the NRA’s “Corporate Partners Program”).
- Most recently, at the NRA’s annual meeting in April 2014, the NRA displayed a “big check” from Glock to the organization for $50,000 (see photo here).
- Sig Sauer is a “Contributing Sponsor” to the online “channel” of the NRA’s Life of Duty program, which targets military and law enforcement. The company has contributed between $25,000 and $49,999 to the NRA.
- Semiautomatic firearms are the type most commonly used in mass shootings. Semiautomatic pistols fire one round each time the trigger is pulled and automatically reload after each shot. The guns use detachable ammunition magazines that allow the shooter to quickly reload after emptying a magazine. The Isla Vista shooter used 10-round magazines — the highest capacity legally available in California. All three guns were purchased legally from California gun dealers.
- Semiautomatic pistols were not widely available in the civilian market until the mid-1980s, when gun manufacturers began implementing a strategy to market militarized firearms to combat lagging sales. Until the late 1980s, revolvers were the most common handguns. For more details, see the 2011 VPC study The Militarization of the U.S. Civilian Firearms Market.
- Rodger also wrote in his manifesto: “After I picked up the handgun, I brought it back to my room and felt a new sense of power. I was now armed. Who’s the alpha male now, b*****s?”
The Violence Policy Center is a national tax-exempt educational organization working for a safer America through research, investigation, analysis, and advocacy. The VPC provides information to policymakers, journalists, organizations, advocates, and the general public.