february - handgun history


Each month, this section features prominent incidents of violence in the history of America involving handguns and shooters, ranging from school-aged children to disgruntled employees to lone-wolf assassins, acting out of a wide range of motives. Each month's incidents will include details such as: the identity of the shooter; the number of people killed and wounded; the make, model, and caliber of the handgun(s) used in the shooting; the circumstances of the shooting; and, how the handgun was acquired.

  • On February 7, 2001, Robert W. Pickett was shot in the leg by a Secret Service officer after allegedly firing his .38 revolver outside the south fence of the White House. Pickett, who suffered from mental illness and had attempted suicide at least once, purchased the revolver legally from an Evansville, Indiana, pawn shop after passing the instant criminal background check. Because he had never been involuntarily committed to a mental institution, Pickett was not prohibited from buying the handgun.

  • On February 15, 1933, Chicago Mayor Anton J. Cermak was wounded by an assassin's bullet intended for President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt. He died three weeks later of his injuries. 
  • On February 19, 1983, Benjamin Ng, a 20-year-old immigrant from Honk Kong, hog-tied and shot 14 people during the robbery of the Mah Wee gambling club in Seattle. One man survived. 

  • On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of the murder in March 1966. 

  • On February 23, 1997, Ali Hassan Abu Kamal shot seven people at the Empire State Building in New York City, killing one and wounding six before taking his own life. Kamal had been in the country only two months before traveling to Florida to illegally purchase a Beretta .380 pistol. Although federal law prohibits immigrants from buying a gun within 90 days of entering the United States, Kamal was able to purchase the gun because there was no record of his residency status in the federal database when he went through a background check. To acquire the photo ID needed to purchase the gun, Kamal stayed in a motel for a few weeks and used the address as proof of his state residency. 
  • On February 29, 2000, a six-year-old boy allegedly brought a Davis Industries .32 pistol to Theo J. Buell Elementary School in Mt. Morris Township, Michigan, and shot fellow first-grader Kayla Rolland. According to police, the two had quarrelled the day before. The gun was acquired illegally. The six-year-old took the gun from a shoebox in his uncle Jamelle James' bedroom. The gun was originally sold to Stanley E. Mayo at a Flint, Michigan, gun store in 1999. According to a police report, Mayo reported the gun stolen in December 1999. James told police that he had purchased the gun form Robert Lee Morris for $40 and a bag of marijuana. James was sentenced to 15 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter because he allowed the six-year-old access to a gun.