Criminal use of full-auto weapons?


Harold Mayo
January 22, 2003, 09:48 PM
The thread about the use of full-auto weapons in "The Shield" got me thinking a little about that very thing in real life. Does anyone know how many crimes have actually been committed using full-auto weapons? I have heard and read a couple of different things but will reserve writing what I THINK I know about it until I see how well-informed I actually am.

Does anyone have any knowledge of crimes committed using full-auto weapons? If so, what is the origin of the weapon(s) in question? Registered Class III stuff, illegally smuggled in, never registered, illegal conversion...?

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January 22, 2003, 10:06 PM
Only ONE since 1934 and it was in the late 70s or early 80s. Involved a police officer, a privately owned Mac10 and his wife in bed with another guy.

Editted to add: All other crimes involving select fire weapons such as the North Hollywood bank robbery involved unlawfully owned NON registered weapons.

January 22, 2003, 10:24 PM
Two bad guys with full autos and body armor.:cuss:

Mike Irwin
January 22, 2003, 10:32 PM
We need a little clarification.

NUMEROUS crimes have been committed with fully automatic weapons in this country since 1934.

HOWEVER, the point of contention should be how many have been committed with legally owned (under GCA 1934) fully automatic weapons since then.

The two bank robbers in North LA don't count. Their weapons were automatic, but were not registered under GCA 1934.

Steyr mentions one, which I believe happened in, of all places, Illinois.

Steyr, what I have heard, but have never been able to confirm, is that this may NOT have been fully privately owned, but part of the purchase money may have been issued by his department of employment.

Harold Mayo
January 22, 2003, 11:05 PM
I'm looking for ANY crimes committed with full-auto weapons. ANY.

The entertainment industry takes the liberty of making it look like everyone and their brother has full-auto weapons and that they are used all the time. I even have (anti) relatives that swear that you can easily buy full-auto weapons in pawn shops and on street corners and won't seem to realize, no matter how much I tell them, that they are just not that easy to come by and aren't really a lot (or any) better than aimed semi-auto fire, anyway.

The police officer I was aware of, as well as the shootout in LA. That's TWO. Any more? Anyone have any local stories?

I know of full-auto weapons that were FOUND in raids (and, in one instance, an almost-mint Thompson that an old guy had never registered and never used that had to be confiscated when he died and his wife called the local sheriff's department to ask THEM if it was valuable) but, other than stuff like the two instances above that makes national news, I am at a loss to think of anything.

January 22, 2003, 11:24 PM
Guns Used in Crime: Firearms, Crime and Criminal Justice (

Firearm Use by Offenders (

Guns and Crime: Handgun Victimization, Firearm Self-Defense, and Firearm Theft (

January 22, 2003, 11:26 PM
Out of all the GSW calls I have run (I have had two in the last week), I had one where a full auto weapon had been reported to have been used. Three people were standing in front of a house with an attached garage. They were cornered where the garage attached to the house. It was reported that two guys stood in the driveway; one with a handgun and the other with a "machine gun". There was brass all over the driveway, I would estimate somewhere around 50 rounds had been fired leading me to believe the report of the "machine gun". One person was slightly injured by broken glass from a shattered window.

Harold Mayo
January 22, 2003, 11:52 PM
I appreciate the links to the studies but they tell little or nothing. All of them were done based on interviews with inmates rather than on actual reports from LE officers and agencies. Definitions given in the study might or might not mean anything to the convicts. I am so used to dealing with people who know something about firearms that I am continually shocked (although I should have gotten over it by now) to learn that the majority of the public know NOTHING about fully automatic weapons and the difficulties in obtaining them.

The studies in the above links lump "military-style semi-automatic and fully-automatic" firearms in the same category in every case. My AR15s are equivalent to an M16 in the eyes of that study. One of them goes on to say that the inmates reported that they bought x-percentage of their "military-style semi-automatic and fully-automatic" weapons from a retail outlet. I am in doubt that most criminals pick up full-auto stuff from stores. The authors of the studies don't seem to make much of a distinction between semi- and fully-automatic weapons. I makes me wonder if the study was done by a bureaucrat who DOESN'T know anything about firearms other than some definitions given to him/her/them by their superiors in whatever government branch they happened to be working in.

Matthew Courtney
January 23, 2003, 01:23 AM

Your post intrigues me. As there were no serious injuries, will a gun profile be done from the recovered bullets and brass to narrow down the firearm likely used. 50 shots are easy with a semi in 20-30 seconds. Witness reports from people under heavy fire tend to be not so reliable.

Just curious.

January 23, 2003, 01:38 AM
IIRC, there have been two cases where registered weapons were used. Both of them were committed by cops. The second incident was fairly recent, I read about it on TFL.

January 23, 2003, 01:41 AM
There was an incident in Indiana about 2 or 3 years ago in which a police officer was gunned down by a guy with an SKS modified to fire full auto.

Criminals also used full-auto weapons at the Branch Davidian debacle.

January 23, 2003, 01:55 AM
Criminals also used full-auto weapons at the Branch Davidian debacle.
You have actual proof of that?

[edit] Which criminals are you referring to?

January 23, 2003, 02:10 AM
"Knowing" Justin, I'd suspect that he's refering (Waco) to the "legal owners' (sic) LEOs. My kinda guy.

Worst case, from our standpoint, is that the argument could be made that complete registration lends toward a more "regulated society" = more registration = less criminal misuse.

Careful what you ask for.

Matthew Courtney
January 23, 2003, 02:17 AM
You are correct. Atf agents acting illegally, used auto's at Waco.

January 23, 2003, 02:40 AM
MC! For Shame!

Dansforth had a hearing & all is well.

No Fed-Troop did a thing wrong. Dintcha read the report!?

"I read the news today, Oh boy ..... " (sing the song .... )

& "what a field day for the heat"

More fodder. Sleep well.


Worst case = unregulated full-autos are being used in criminal activities. Best case = full-autos aren't being used in criminal activities which proves the point that complete registration works.

Flip the coin as to what worst versus best is.

January 23, 2003, 06:16 AM
A SWAT team member in NJ went postal sometime in the 2001/2002 timeframe with his issue MP5.


January 23, 2003, 07:47 AM
Matthew Courtney
I was trying to point out in my post that I have been on hundreds of these types of calls and this one sounded legitimate to me. This certainly wasn't the first or last time that I had someone tell me they were shot at with a machine gun, but it is the only time I ever believed it. I also tryed to cover myself by basically admitting that I wasn't there, but it sounded right to me. Why it sounded right I couldn't tell you, but it did at the time. The fact that no one was hurt is typical. Spray and pray doesn't work, never did. Volume of fire can't make up for accuracy of fire. As they say in IPSC, you can't miss fast enough. As far as conducting some kind of in depth investigation; I don't know, I am not a cop. Based on nothing but my opinion I would guess that a report was written and that was the end of it, but I don't know.

January 23, 2003, 07:59 AM
Gun oblivious civvies frequently mistake rapid fire for full auto fire. I was shooting @ a friends gun club a few weeks back, doing rapid fire drills with my .45 when my bud ran out and asked me to chill. Apparently, the neighbors periodically call the cops saying "they're shooting machine guns :what: over there!"

January 23, 2003, 08:26 AM
"Gun oblivious civvies "

This is a soccer mom thing. Most country people are not gun oblivious and most people that live in the inner city are not gun oblvious.
As mentioned, I have heard more than once that someone was shot with a machine gun, but not very often. It isn't common. Contrary to what is seen in the movies, a typical urban shooting might have a couple rounds fired. Sure, there are exceptions. This thread got me thinking about this and in almost 20 years of working here I can only remember a couple shootings I ever went on where more than 4-5 shots were fired unless it was by the police.

Mark Tyson
January 23, 2003, 09:07 AM
A Seaside Heights(New Jersey) police officer named Edward Lutes used his department issue fully automatic MP-5 in a shooting rampage that killed 5 and wounded another. The weapon was full auto capable - I remember a picture which showed a close up of the selector lever. Victims were neighbors and a police supervisor. The shooter was a member of the SWAT team, head of the team at one point if I'm not mistaken.

Interesting how that case didn't generate more media coverage. If it had been one of the "from my cold dead hands" types, we all know what would have followed.

January 23, 2003, 11:19 AM
I've heard a few bursts fired - generally around the fourth of july or new year's...

Detachment Charlie
January 23, 2003, 12:10 PM
In a previous life, I lived for a while in one of the most "urban" areas of Cleveland. Gangs ran wild and shootings in the neighborhood were so common that unless someone was hit and badly bleeding or dead in the street, not much notice was paid to random gunfire. One weekend evening, at least two of the local youth groups were involved in unsupervised firearms familiarization. Suddenly, a sound I hadn't heard in about 15 years came riping back. Somebody had opened up with with an AK -- a sound never to be forgotten by those of us who helped the U.S. secure the Silver Medal in the Southeast Asia Wargames. The fact that some misunderstood youth was hosing down the neighborhood with a full auto weapon really didn't surprise me (he~~, I wanted to set up claymores in my driveway). What did surprise me was the total lack of response from the local constabulary.
Ah, the good old days:rolleyes:

January 23, 2003, 01:44 PM
I think it has been pretty much proven as an established fact that only criminals use guns illegally.


Joe Demko
January 23, 2003, 02:01 PM
I commited a criminal use of a machine gun every time I did "the string trick" with my Maadi AK...'til I got rid of the POS.

January 23, 2003, 05:48 PM
To answer the original question: yes. Back in 1990 or so, we had a drug wholesaler operating in our neighborhood. One evening I heard the unmistakable sound of full-auto fire (my wife thought it was someone with a big string of firecrackers, but the report was too loud). Next morning I went to look at the car that was shot up, and there was a local LEO there. I told him it was full-auto, and he said, "no, we don't have machine guns in Milwaukee." I replied, "sorry, but you're wrong. I have one. It's legal. And there's no question that the one last night wasn't full-auto."

He might as well have said that we didn't have drugs in Milwaukee.

January 27, 2003, 04:14 AM
Crime with Legally Owned Machine Guns

In 1995 there were over 240,000 machine guns registered with the BATF. (Zawitz, Marianne,Bureau of Justice Statistics, Guns Used in Crime [PDF].) About half are owned by civilians and the other half by police departments and other governmental agencies (Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Walter de Gruyter, Inc., New York, 1997.)

Since 1934, only one legally owned machine gun has ever been used in crime, and that was a murder committed by a law enforcement officer (as opposed to a civilian). On September 15th, 1988, a 13-year veteran of the Dayton, Ohio police department, Patrolman Roger Waller, then 32, used his fully automatic MAC-11 .380 caliber submachine gun to kill a police informant, 52-year-old Lawrence Hileman. Patrolman Waller pleaded guilty in 1990, and he and an accomplice were sentenced to 18 years in prison. The 1986 'ban' on sales of new machine guns does not apply to purchases by law enforcement or government agencies.

Guncite - Full Auto Weapons (

January 27, 2003, 04:27 AM
a good friend of mine was a county sherriff, he quit his job after having to shoot a teenager who opened up on his cruiser with a full-auto mac-10. he knows firearms very well so I don't think he was mistaking fast shooting for full auto, at any rate, he took the kid down with one shot and has never quite gotten over it.

January 27, 2003, 06:19 AM

It is unfortunate your friend now has to live with taking a human life. But even this proves that it is not the legally owned and registered machineguns that LEO's are confronted with on the street.

It is amazing that with 240,000+ civilian owned machineguns in the United States, you NEVER hear of them being used against police, school children or spouses.

Civilian owned machineguns have a better record than items such as baseball bats or kitchen knives relative to being used in crimes of violence.

January 27, 2003, 08:30 AM
Hk, I think they have a better record than just about any object you could name. How many other items could be found that haven't been used in a crime?

January 27, 2003, 08:23 PM
In Denver on June 18, 1984, that nutcase bunch run by Robert Mathews called The Order killed a talkshow host, David Berg, in his driveway with a full auto .45 Mac 10. They also did some bank and armored car robberies with the same weapon before they got caught and/or charcoaled.

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