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David Hines [userpic]

the Pittsburgh shooting

April 5th, 2009 (04:32 pm)
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Looking at the case of police officers who were murdered in Pittsburgh, I'm noticing some interesting stuff coming out. Richard Poplawski, the perpetrator, allegedly opened fire immediately on officers entering the home he shared with his mother. Reportedly, his dog peed on the carpet, and Poplawski's mother got angry and told him she was going to evict him. The cops came in response to a domestic disturbance call. They'd been out there before on similar calls, so the PD was familiar with the Poplawskis. So it basically began in the same way that most shootings of police officers begin: with a routine call. Most police officers who are killed by gunfire are murdered during a routine traffic stop, when the perpetrator unexpectedly opens fire. That's what Poplawski did.

He had a Kalashnikov of some sort, a handgun of some sort, and what the New York Times describes as a "22 long rifle." .22LR is the name of a cartridge, not a firearm, and you can fire it from handguns or pistols, so your guess is as good as mine on that one. He's reported to have exchanged hundreds of shots with police. That'd be a little surprising. Ammo is hella expensive these days, and most people don't keep vast amounts of it on hand, though Poplawski was reportedly stockpiling. If I had to bet, I would guess that his first murder, as the police were coming in the door, was committed with the handgun. Subsequent murders probably done with the AK. I do wonder, though, if a lot of the rounds he exchanged with the cops after the murders were .22s. Because it's not uncommon in the slightest to buy hundreds of those at a time.

My guess is that the shootings were probably relatively impulse-driven. Example of previous behavior: Poplawski joined the military. Than he decided he missed his girlfriend and wanted to see her. So he deliberately got a dishonorable discharge. Yeah, that's thinking ahead, guy. While the murders were likely not politically motivated, it turns out that Poplawski is a political fanatic and active white supremacist who believes Jews run the country. He posted regularly to the white supremacist Stormfront forums, and had tattoos related to the movement. Also, he had domestic battery charges from roughing up a girlfriend, and was arrested for violating the order of protection she had against him.

Gun owners reading this will have had two alarm buttons go off: what was this guy doing with firearms? The domestic battery stuff and the dishonorable discharge mean that he is legally prohibited from owning guns. Those are two of the questions on ATF Form 4473. Whatever guns this guy had, he had illegally. Be interesting to know how he acquired 'em. If he made a straw purchase, then the guy who made it for him is going up the river, big-time.


Posted by: trinfaneb (trinfaneb)
Posted at: April 6th, 2009 12:12 am (UTC)

I didn't know that dishonorable discharges meant that you couldn't legally own guns. How about bulletproof vests? I've lost track of the laws governing them.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 6th, 2009 03:00 am (UTC)

I didn't know either, but apparently federal law comes down on it, if you read the fine print on the 4473.

No idea on bulletproof vests. They're charging him on it as a criminal device; not sure how the legalities work there.

Posted by: cyano (cyano)
Posted at: April 6th, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
Cylon White Rage


I don't have much in the way of words about this, other than the obvious.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 6th, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)

What a piece of work that guy and his mom are.

Article says he was "buying and selling guns online." That'd be illegal for him. If he was using gunbroker or something like that, he'd have to go through a licensed dealer anyway, and the background check should have stopped him there.

I am really curious about where he got the firearms. My five bucks says that the best friend white supremacist who's quoted in a few articles did some straw purchasing for him. Felony, big-time.

Posted by: cyano (cyano)
Posted at: April 6th, 2009 05:18 pm (UTC)

It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.

And I don't buy the thing about missing his girlfriend and planning to get kicked out of the USMC.

The Marines like em gung-ho, but loose cannons are right out. I am sure that he threw up red flags before assaulting his drill instructor.

Posted by: A large duck (burger_eater)
Posted at: April 6th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)

If he made a straw purchase, then the guy who made it for him is going up the river, big-time.

And deservedly so.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 6th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC)

Ohhhhhhh, yeah.

I didn't realize this about Pennsylvania: apparently, they ban intrastate private sales between individuals. Most states don't. So, for example, I could buy my .44 Magnum off the guy in my NRA instructor class, because both of us live in Florida -- that's a private sale. But if I was selling a gun from my collection and you wanted to buy it, we'd have to get a gun dealer to handle the transfer on each end, because that's interstate commerce.

So, basically, there is no earthly way that guy should have had those guns. At all.

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