Glock 19: How did Unemployed Jared Loughner Buy Popular, Expensive Pistol?

The shooter, with no record of recent employment, paid about $450 for the gun.

January 10, 2011, 5:22 PM

Jan. 11, 2011 — -- The the Glock 19 Jared Lee Loughner allegedly used to try to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is a popular firearm around the world. Questions remain about how Loughner would be able to afford the gun which costs about $450, not including ammunition and magazines.

Little is known about Loughner's employment record. He volunteered at a local pet shelter in January and February of last year, according to the New York Times, which reported he was told not to come back after he refused to follow the rules about where to walk the dogs. Loughner said on his application at the shelter that he worked at an Eddie Bauer store in Tucson from October 2008 to November 2009.

In an interview with Diane Sawyer on Monday, Pima County, Ariz., Sheriff Clarence Dupnik refused to comment on the alleged shooter's home life, but said, "I can tell you this is a somewhat dysfunctional family."

Loughner legally purchased the Glock at a Sportsman's Warehouse chain store in Tucson, Ariz., on Nov. 30 after completing a form and passing a background check. Six people were killed and 14 injured in Tucson on Saturday. Giffords, shot in the left hemisphere of the brain, was in critical but stable condition in a Tucson hospital.

Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, said the pistol's price ranges from $400 to $500, not including bullets and magazines. Wal-Mart Inc. confirmed that Loughner tried to buy ammunition at one of its stores but was refused service due to "strange behavior," according to the FBI. He was later able to get it at another Wal-Mart.

Sportsman's Warehouse had no comment about Loughner's method of payment. Jason Ogan, spokesman for the Pima County Sheriff's Department, said he did not have information related to Loughner's payment method.

Loughner appeared Monday before a Phoenix judge who assigned him two public defenders. Based on a financial affidavit that Loughner signed, the judge said he might not be financially able to pay for defense attorneys.

He is charged with one federal count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, two counts of killing an employee of the federal government, and two counts of attempting to kill a federal employee.

Gun-control advocates say sales of the high-capacity semiautomatic pistol, Glock 19, increased with its use by law enforcement. Rand estimated that about 60 percent of guns used by U.S. police departments are Glock pistols.

Because Glock guns are imported into the United States, she said only the company has records of how many makes or models are sold and how many are in circulation.

Bloomberg News reported that one-day sales of handguns in Arizona jumped 60 percent on Jan. 10 compared with the corresponding Monday a year ago, the second-biggest increase of any state in the country, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data.

Rand said Glock's first pistol, the Glock 17, became popular with law enforcement officials soon after it was developed in the 1980s. Glock, the Austrian company that designs and produces the pistols, sells the Glock 19 around the world.

ABC News contacted Glock, but a company spokesman said an executive would have to address the questions and the company's U.S. headquarters in Georgia was closed Monday due to winter storms in the southeastern region.

"Glock was really the driving force behind police departments switching from revolvers to semi-automatic," Rand said. "They have been very successful at marketing to police departments."

Rand said gun buyers outside of law enforcement soon caught on to the Glock's popularity to mimic law enforcement gun trends.

Rand said the Glock 19 has been used in other mass killings, including the Virginia Tech shooting in April 2007. In that incident, Seung-Hui Cho used a Glock 19 and a Walther P22 rifle to kill 32 students and take his own life.

"They blazed the trail of popularity among law enforcement agencies to sell to the general public," Rand said. "They would say 'You want the same gun used by law enforcement.'"

Rand also said the materials and look of the gun, which other manufacturers have emulated, helped fuel sales.

"It was one of the first high tech-looking guns to utilize polymers and plastics, as opposed to all metal," she said.

Gun-control advocates are using the incident in their campaign to bring back the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was enacted in 1994 but expired in September 2004.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., announced Monday that they intend to introduce legislation to prohibit the manufacture and sale of high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, such as the Glock 19.

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, wrote in a statement: "If Congress had not allowed the 'Assault Weapons Ban' to expire in 2004, the shooter would only have been able to get off 10 rounds without reloading."

Loughner was allegedly able to fire at least 20 rounds from his 33-round clip, according to Helmke.