The guns used in the San Bernardino, Calif., shooting were all purchased legally from federally licensed firearms dealers, according to law enforcement officials.
The assailants, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, a county health worker, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, a woman described as his Pakistan-born wife, used two assault rifles. Law enforcement officials identified the rifles as a DPMS model AR-15 and a Smith & Wesson M&P 15. The rifles were .223-caliber, law enforcement officials said.
The couple also had two semiautomatic handguns, which were manufactured by Smith & Wesson and Llama, and four .223-caliber magazines of ammunition. They were wearing tactical clothing, including vests that held ammunition, police said.
The firearms were all purchased in 2011 and 2012, the officials said.
The shooters fired 65 to 75 rounds in the Inland Regional Center, where 14 people were killed, according to police.
“They sprayed the room with bullets,” said San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan. There is no limit on the amount of ammunition that U.S. citizens can buy and keep in their homes; police discovered hundreds of more rounds when the couple were killed in a shootout with police.
“Clearly, they could have done another attack,” Burguan said.
California law bans assault-style, semiautomatic rifles with the capability to accept a detachable ammunition magazine, because detachable, high-capacity magazines give people the ability to shoot a large number of rounds and to reload quickly. But in California, an ammunition magazine isn’t considered detachable if a “tool” is required to remove it from the weapon, according to the Violence Policy Center, which has published a study on the state’s assault-weapons ban.
Gun owners, though, can purchase an assault weapon if it has a tiny device called a “bullet button.” It is a release button for the ammunition magazine that is activated by using the tip of a bullet as a “tool,” still allowing the detachable ammunition magazine to be removed and replaced quickly.
One of the rifles used in the shooting, the AR-15, had a bullet button.
“The gun industry is expert at marketing military-bred weapons with a wink and a nod, and they’re constantly working to skirt the law, as we’ve seen in California,” said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center.
During a gun battle with police after the initial shooting, Farook and his wife fired 76 rifle rounds at officers. The police fired 380 rounds back, according to Burguan. The couple was killed and two officers were wounded.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did an “urgent trace” from its National Tracing Center, in Martinsburg, W.Va., on the firearms within two hours of their recovery.
The two handguns were traced to Farook and two to another individual whose name has not been released by investigators. A federal law enforcement official said that the two semiautomatic rifles used in the shooting were bought at a different store by someone who investigators believe is Farook’s former roommate.
Farook bought his two handguns at Annie’s Get Your Gun, a federally licensed dealer in Corona, about 30 miles southwest of San Bernardino, officials said. The name of the store was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
An explosive device, described as three “pipe bombs” bound together, was found in a bag on a table at Inland Regional Center. The explosives were set to be detonated by a remote-control device described by law enforcement officials as a “toy remote.” Investigators recovered the remote device in the suspects’ car. Burguan said he does not know why the device was not used or whether it failed.
Police found an additional 12 pipe bombs and thousands more rounds at the home of the couple.