I recently received a note from a reader who wanted me to write some ‘fun’ stories about guns. And why not? After all, for those of us who enjoy guns because we just like to shoot them, or talk about them, or play with them, guns are a lot of fun. So here’s one of those stories which ends in heartbreak but that’s how most good stories end.
I used to have a friend in the gun business named Joe DeSaye. He owned a wholesale gun company called J&G (named after himself and his ex-wife Grace), which is still a family-owned business even though Joe, of blessed memory, is long gone. Anyway, Joe used to sell most of his inventory through a gun newspaper called Shotgun News. Most of Joe’s ads were for used handguns, many of them police trade-ins, and many of them guns that he bought from me. I’ll spare the details of how I accumulated and sold Joe upwards of 10,000 used handguns every year; it was all legal commerce and Joe only dealt with customers who held a valid FFL.
One day in 1984 or 1985 Joe calls me (he lived in Arizona and I was in New York) and tells me that he’s got a “line” on an “incredible stash of guns.” But he couldn’t talk on the phone because he was at some place where he might be overheard, so I had to call him back that night when he got home. That night Joe tells me that the United States Postal Inspectors had just purchased 4,000 new Smith & Wesson stainless magnum revolvers – the 4-inch Model 66 – and were giving them out to every postal inspector who was turning in his own gun. Evidently the Postal Inspectors had been allowed to carry whatever sidearm they chose, but now the force was getting modern and everyone was going to carry a Model 66.
Joe then further told me that the 4,000 duty weapons previously carried by the Inspectors were sitting in a warehouse at the Marine base in Quantico but Joe had “friends” in the Post Office, and these friends had agreed to let Joe enter a sole bid for the guns. So I was going to go down to Quantico, take a look at the guns to make sure they were in good enough shape to be resold, and then Joe would submit the bid.
The next day I drove down to Quantico, and after checking me out at the security gate, I was taken to an unmarked, corrugated-metal storage building somewhere on the base. Got out of the car, walked into a big room, lights went on, and I was surrounded by 4,000 handguns neatly stacked in piles all over the floor. And what piles! Over here were beautiful, commercial versions of the Colt 1911 with the shiny, royal blue Colt finish, not a blemish or a scratch. Over there were Smith & Wesson 45-caliber M&P revolvers, the 5-inch models manufactured before World War II. There were even some original Colt, Single Action Army guns in 44-40 and 45. I was dizzy; I was beside myself with joy. I couldn’t have cared less how much Joe and I would make on this deal, I just wanted to keep about 100 of the guns for myself.
Know what happened? The next day there was a story about a local police chief in Virginia who sold some confiscated guns to a gun shop who sold one of the guns to a jerk who then shot his wife with the gun. And the day after that, the Postal Service loaded the entire pile on a cargo plane, flew the plane over the ocean and dumped my 4,000 guns into the sea.
I suppose it’s better that those guns ended up underwater than even one of them ending up in the wrong hands. But they still could have let me take 100 of them home. I could have always made room by throwing out some of my Lionel trains.