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Bess to be destroyed

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  • Dave Westhouse
    As in a previous post Save the musket Here is the original article from the Hamilton Spectator and the link until it stops working
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5, 2006
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      As in a previous post 'Save the musket'
      Here is the original article from the Hamilton Spectator
      and the link until it stops working

      Amnesty pulls guns off streets
      Gary Yokoyama, the Hamilton Spectator

      Guns galore: Citizens turn in 1,254 firearms

      Police were delighted with the array and number -- 1,254 -- of
      handguns, rifles, shotguns, pellet guns and replica weapons
      Photos by Gary Yokoyama, the Hamilton Spectator

      Deputy Chief Ken Leendertse, standing amid the weapons, has never seen
      so many firearms in one place.

      A brass-barrelled flintlock pistol from about 1820 is among weapons
      surrendered to Hamilton police and slated for destruction.
      By Paul Morse
      The Hamilton Spectator
      (Apr 5, 2006)

      Sobering. Truly sobering.

      That's what it feels like to stand amid 1,254 guns that ordinary
      Hamilton folk -- a grandmother across town, a neighbour down the
      street -- handed over to police in only one month.

      Enough firepower was spread out in Hamilton police central station
      gymnasium yesterday to arm a small militia. There was everything from
      a single-shot pistol tiny enough a teenager could hide it in a hand to
      a German machine gun that could mow down soldiers with a firing rate
      of 1,200 rounds a minute.

      "It takes my breath away, I've never seen so many weapons in one
      place," said Deputy Chief Ken Leendertse yesterday.

      "Even taking just one gun off the streets is a success. Our original
      target was 500. This is far beyond what we believed we would achieve."

      Along with tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, police are
      particularly pleased 133 handguns were turned in for destruction.
      Handguns are the weapons of choice for gang members, Leendertse said,
      holding high value on the street and a key target in break-ins.

      "The community is fed up with gun violence. My message to the
      community -- thank you. My message to gang members -- watch out, we're

      Hamilton police's guns and weapons enforcement officers and the
      provincial weapons enforcement unit continue to screen the firearms
      for previous criminal use. So far, none has been linked to crime.

      In addition to the handguns, people turned in 429 rifles, 263
      shotguns, 144 pellet guns and 12 replica weapons. Another 273 long
      arms are still being sorted.

      Most were run-of-the-mill hunting guns, but several were unusual
      enough to take Hamilton gun expert Mark Pruden's breath away. Pruden,
      a former antiques dealer, missed yesterday morning's full weapons
      display. By the time he made it to Central Station, the guns had all
      been carted back into storage.

      But police firearms officer Jenny Ball and property supervisor Jan
      Griese, who with their staff had already twice moved over a tonne of
      metal that day, agreed to lug out a few pieces for Pruden to appraise.

      "Wow. A Remington Rolling Block in nice shape," he said, as he
      inspected a 139-year-old breech lock rifle. "It still has the
      cartouche (an ornamental mark) on it."

      Next out of the lockup was a flintlock musket.

      "No way," Pruden exclaimed. "A Brown Bess, in original condition. This
      screams history, this belongs in a museum."

      The musket was manufactured in the Tower of London during the 1700s,
      and could well have been used in the War of 1812, he said.

      Still visible is the name of the soldier who branded his name, WBY
      Shelburne, into the stock.

      First issued to British soldiers in 1768, the Short Land Service
      Musket was the first mass-produced firearm, at least in terms of mass
      production, over 200 years ago. One artisan forged the barrel, another
      built the stock and someone else assembled the weapon in an armoury
      housed in the tower.

      Ball and Griese hauled out an 1870s Martini Henry rifle, a Second
      World War German MG-34 machine gun considered the Cadillac of machine
      guns during the war, and a brass-barrelled flintlock pistol from about

      Then Pruden was handed a final weapon and his eyes went wide.

      "This is very rare, it's a Johnson rifle," he said. It was built in
      1941 by Boston lawyer and U.S. Marine Reserve captain Melvin Johnson.
      The rifle was passed over by the U.S. Army for the M-1 Garand.

      The Dutch ordered 30,000 for the Dutch East Indies, but Japan
      conquered the islands before the shipment could be delivered. The guns
      were commandeered by the U.S. Marines and the joint Canadian-American
      First Special Service Force known as The Devil's Brigade.

      Hamilton police say all the amnesty weapons will be melted down in a
      blast furnace, regardless of the historical value.

      Chief Brian Mullan has maintained throughout the amnesty that getting
      the guns out of basements and attics where they could be stolen is
      more important. Gun owners turning in weapons have made a contract
      with police to destroy the firearms, he said.

      Museums should be given a chance to obtain the pieces, Pruden said
      yesterday. Some, like the Brantford Military Museum, would be thrilled
      to get one of the artifacts, he said.

      "So much of our history is being destroyed. It's like we don't care
      about our own history."
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