California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Here’s what we know about the weapons used in this week’s deadly attacks | CNN


California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, according to advocacy groups. And yet, the state has been rocked by three mass shootings in 44 hours.

At least two of the suspected gunmen carried out the attacks with semi-automatic weapons and at least one of the weapons was currently illegal in the state.

We spoke with Jennifer Mascia and Stephen Gutowski, contributors to CNN’s Guns in America, to learn more about the firearms used in each attack.

The following questions and answers have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

The weapon used in the attack was either a MAC-10 semi-automatic assault weapon or an M11 Cobray, according to authorities (both have said). What does that mean? Is that type of weapon legal in California?

JM: First, a word of caution: An original MAC-10, the Military Armament Corporation Model 10, is usually a fully automatic submachine gun. That means multiple bullets are ejected every time the trigger is pulled.

Machine guns are heavily regulated by the National Firearms Law. The weapon he used was not a machine gun. Variants of the MAC-10 include the Cobray M11/9, which was originally reported to have been taken from the gunman.

The MAC-10 variants are illegal under California’s assault weapons ban for two reasons: They have a threaded barrel and are designed to load 30-round magazines. Anything over 10 rounds is illegal under California law.

SG: The gun that was taken from him appears to have had a suppressor/silencer attached to it, meaning it likely had a threaded barrel which would make it illegal to purchase today.

It’s also not legal to buy them today because California has banned the sale of handguns without certain features, such as a safety magazine, loaded chamber indicator, or “microstamping” technology (which no gun company actually produces).

However, the suspect in this case is 72 years old and the ATF trace indicates that he purchased the gun himself. We need more information about when the purchase was made. But, since the company that made it went out of business in the 1990s, he may have bought it legally before California’s “assault weapons” ban went into effect.

How the Monterey Park shooting and the manhunt for the gunman unfolded

Was any modification made to the weapon? If so, did that make it more dangerous and/or illegal?

SG: CNN reports suggest that police believe he was illegally manufacturing mufflers at his home. Video of him being disarmed by Brandon Tsay shows what appears to be a suppressor attached to the end of the barrel. California…has a total ban on even the possession of silencers. Therefore, it was not legal for him to have.

Suppressors reduce the sound of gunshots. However, they do not actually silence a shot. Depending on the caliber and effectiveness of the suppressor, they generally drop the sound to the same decibel level as a jackhammer. Suppressors work in exactly the same way as car mufflers and were invented by the same person (Hiram Percy Maxim).

How was he able to fire so many rounds?

SG: Police report the shooter used a 30-round magazine, which California also prohibits new sales. Given the suspect’s age, he too could have bought the magazine before California instituted its ban several decades ago.

California passed a forfeiture law that prohibits the possession of magazines containing more than 10 rounds in 2016. However, a federal judge blocked its application over concerns it violates the Constitution, and that case (Duncan v. Beccera) is still pending. courts

Furthermore, survivors report that it also reloaded during the attack. So the size of the magazine didn’t stop him from having to reload his gun at least once.

Also, the gun you used can fire rounds at basically the same rate as any other semi-auto firearm (one shot per trigger).

The gun had a long barrel at the end. What is that and what does it do?

JM: I think this is a silencer that muffles the sound of a shot. But that has not been confirmed by the police. Silencers are regulated by the same federal law that regulates machine guns. You would have had to register the device with the federal government to legally possess it.

Authorities have said the gun was a semi-automatic weapon, legally registered in the shooter’s name. How is this pistol different from the semi-automatic used in the Monterey Park shooting, and why is it legal and the other is not?

JM: The Monterey Park weapon is not legal in California because it has features prohibited under the state’s assault weapons ban: a threaded barrel and is designed to load 30-round magazines.

The weapon used in the Half Moon Bay shooting was a registered semi-automatic pistol that did not have any of the characteristics listed in California’s assault weapons ban. Most pistols in circulation are semi-automatic, which means that another round is automatically moved into the chamber after firing. It does not have to be manually cocked, like a revolver.

What does the number of victims tell you about the type of weapon used?

JM: AR-15s are particularly deadly, leaving fewer survivors, but most mass shootings are actually carried out with handguns. The Half Moon Bay shooting was so deadly probably because he took aim at his victims and shot them point blank.

With the Monterey Park shooting, I knew right away that the gunman didn’t use an AR-15 because there were so many survivors. A MAC-10 variant and other “assault pistols” are closer in lethality and functionality to a pistol than an AR-15. They are old, heavy, and not very accurate weapons, so the death toll was more like a pistol rampage than an assault rifle rampage.

The suspect in the Half Moon Bay shooting legally possessed his gun and it was pointed at specific people, authorities said.

SG: Unfortunately, when an armed person attacks a group of unarmed and unsuspecting people, it doesn’t take any form of advanced weaponry or tactics to inflict a horrific toll on a community. Mass killings have been carried out with all types of weapons, from semi-automatic rifles and pistols to pump-action shotguns, bolt-action rifles, knives and blunt instruments.

This Is How Many Mass Shootings There Have Already Been This Year

So far, the police have not found a weapon, only bullet casings. Can you trace the type of weapon using those casings and/or the victim’s injuries?

JM: Bullet casings can be run through NIBIN, the ATF’s ballistics database, to match them with bullet casings found at other shooting scenes. But NIBIN does not produce a gun’s serial number or chain of custody. However, you can connect shooters between jurisdictions and prevent repeat shooters from striking again.

SG: Police can identify which caliber of weapon was used in the attack from shell casings recovered at the scene or from the victims’ wounds. However, it is much more difficult to determine the specific firearm used in an attack from spent casings or wounds alone.

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