Study: Mass Shooters’ Weapon of Choice is a Handgun Over 75 Percent of the Time

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AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac

A study conducted by the Rockefeller Institute of Government shows mass shooters choose handguns over “assault weapons” by a 3 to 1 margin.

This finding runs counter to the Democrats’ incessant claim that “assault weapons” are mass shooters’ “weapon of choice.”

Rockefeller IG examined a 50 year window of time, 1966-2016, during which they determined a total of 340 mass shootings occurred in the U.S. They found that attackers used a single weapon roughly 2/3 of the time and used multiple weapons 32.9% of the time.

They discovered that handguns were far and away the number one choice for mass shooters. Handguns were used 75.6% of the time, rifles 28.5% of the time, and shotguns 17.1% of the time. (The total percentage of these numbers exceeds 100 because of instances where more than one weapon was used.)

In light of their finding, the researchers urged policy makers to move beyond “emotion” and “knee-jerk reactions” to mass shootings. They observed, “Although common public perceptions of mass shootings include use of assault rifles, more than three-quarters of mass shootings actually involve handguns. Therefore, it is incumbent to find evidence-based solutions to this growing problem.”

Ironically, Rockefeller IG also found that “the average age of a mass shooter is 33.4 years.” When broken down by specific ages, the overwhelming majority of mass shooters were 20 years and older. This does not bode well for those who claim raising the minimum age for rifle purchases would reduce mass shootings.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at Sign up to get Down Range at



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