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From the archives: Murder gun's journey

This story was originally published in Newsday on Dec. 9, 1993.

Colin Ferguson bought his Ruger semi-automatic pistol on May 9 from a sporting goods chain store in a Los Angeles suburb.

The model P89 9-mm. weapon, which came with a 15-shot clip, was on sale for $299.99 - plus $24.75 tax and a $17.86 state license fee. On April 23, Ferguson, a New Yorker who was staying in a Long Beach, Calif., motel, went to the Signal Hill branch of Turner's Outdoorsman, a 12-store chain, plunked down $82 - a 25 percent deposit - and filled out California licensing forms, swearing that he was neither a felon nor a mental patient.

On May 9, California's 15-day waiting period for a pistol license having elapsed, Ferguson paid the balance in cash and picked up the gun, serial number 30538224, as well as an undetermined quantity of

"That remains under investigation, but the indications are that he bought bullets at the same time he picked up the gun," said John D'Angelo, a spokesman for the Los Angeles office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, commenting on Nassau police reports that Ferguson had 100 rounds at the time of his arrest.

This history of the weapon is based on ATF records:

The weapon was manufactured sometime in early April at the Prescott, Ariz., factory of Sturm Ruger & Co., a gun manufacturer based in Southport, Conn. Ruger has a reputation for manufacturing high-quality, affordable weaons, superior to Saturday night specials, but a notch below standard police issue like Smith & Wesson.

On April 5, Ruger sold the gun to Western Hoegee, a Glendale, Calif. distributor that supplies hundreds of retail stores across the West.

A week later, on April 13, the distributor sent the gun to Turner's.

The weapon was later sent to the branch in Signal Hill, a village within Long Beach, a coastal city south of Los Angeles.

On April 22, Ferguson checked into the Royal Motel, a 10-unit hostelry in Long Beach, paying $280 cash for two weeks. He had reserved a third week, but never paid. It isn't clear how long he stayed. When Ferguson filled out the pistol application, he listed his address as 3716 Long Beach Blvd., Apt. 1, which is a unit of the motel, and
produced a California driver's license.

Under California law, the pistol license application is sent to the capital, Sacramento, and if the state attorney's general's office does not send a stop order, the sale can go ahead after 15 days. Federal officials said yesterday there was no indication that Ferguson had any criminal record that might have been available to California authorities.

New York officials said yesterday that weapons cannot be brought into the city without a license. Ferguson obtained no such license.


The Weapon
Colin Ferguson used a 9mm Ruger semiautomatic pistol in his rampage Tuesday on the Long Island Rail Road. Here are some facts about the gun:

Model: P89

Clip: 15 shots

Weight: 32 ounces

Length: 7.84 inches

Price: $299.99

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