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Smith & Wesson Military & Police Revolver: A gun’s autobiography
A Sheriff's Friend
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I came into this world in July of 1926, the 150th birthday of America. It was fitting. My maker, Smith & Wesson in Massachusetts, created me to be a comfort to the law abiding citizen and a tool in the hands of those who would protect America.
I weighed - but I see it in your eyes. You really don't want to know my specs, do you. How much I weighed, how long my barrel was, the fact that I was chambered for a .38 special. No, you're like most of the other people who aren't sure about guns. Who think that all guns are made for just one purpose - to kill people.
You want to know just how many people I've killed. I'm sorry...but you're going to have to wait just a little bit for that part of the story. There's a lot to tell between here and there.
My first owner bought me in a little gun shop in West Virginia just outside our nation's Capitol. Sheriff George, that's what every one called him, had just won election as the county sheriff. He wanted something that he thought was going to give him the protection he needed with what he could afford in his meager budget. No new-fangled semi-automatic for him. Sheriff wanted something he could trust with his life. He always said, "They call it the Military & Police for a reason."
I was a beauty back then. Deep blue... with wood grips that shone with a luster. A fine, fine piece of American craftsmanship if I do say so about myself. And I was proud to be part of Sheriff George's career. His was a rural county and we never knew what the day would bring. Mostly good people, you understand, but there's always someone who wants to take advantage of someone else.
Sheriff George took good care of me. But he worked me hard. Fired boxes of bullets out of me each week that he reloaded himself. But he never fired in anger. And never at anyone. It was all either down at the county range or at the local dump, where we made a deadly team keeping the rat population down. Sheriff George always said nothing could train a shooting eye better than picking of a running rat at fifty paces. He sure didn't seem to miss many. And several generations of boys learned about life, integrity, and being a man while helping Sheriff George keep the rats down with their little .22 rifles. A select few even got to shoot me at a rat.
I rode on Sheriff George's hip for 17 years. Until Junior came home from college and told the Sheriff and Mrs. that he and his whole class at the University was joining the Army to fight the Nazis.
I still remember the day that Junior was going away on the train. Cold day for summer. Rainy. Maybe that explained the moisture on everyone's faces.
The Sheriff pulled him aside under an awning; gave him a box and said, "Open it."
Junior opened it an saw me, nestled between cleaning rags and supplies.
"This old gun has protected me since right after you were born," said the Sheriff. "And I want to know that he's protecting you in the Army."
With lots of hugging and loud voices proclaiming everything was going to be all right and yes, everyone would try to write at least once a week, Junior's train finally chugged out of the station. And I began a new chapter in my life.
A New Life
I'd like to say I saw action across Europe with Patton, or to have landed in Normandy, but I didn't. I rarely left the box that Junior's father had given him and Junior never left England when he arrived. Turns out that Junior had a real flair for getting needed resources from one area to another, and he spent the entire war behind a desk. Oh, I'm sure he helped save many of our boys' lives with his ability to have the right supplies just where needed the most, but it meant that I spent the next few years gathering dust. Junior just wasn't the shooter that he father was, and although he ensured that I was kept safely he never found the time to go out to the range with me.
I did have a number of offers to buy me, though. Quite of few of those foreign soldiers took a real fancy to me when Junior showed me off. I sometimes wonder how it would have turned out for me if he had sold me. But that would have been like selling a piece of his family he always said.
Even though I spent the war in a box I was willing and prepared to do my duty to defend the country that made me. But one day it came to an end. And Junior took the long ship home from England back to West Virginia.
But I didn't go back to Sheriff George. While we were overseas the Sheriff got into his first real gun fight with a piece of lowlife trash who thought he could rob the grocery in the next town. The Sheriff was a peace officer and he really believed that. He thought that with the right persuasion most everyone could see reason - and it worked for him every time but that one June day. By the time he understood that the man was just faking a stomach cramp the man had already straightened out and shot Sheriff George point blank in the chest.
Seems he was on the run from the Virginia police for a lot of nasty stuff over there, and he was more than willing to kill to keep from going back and accounting for himself. He never was brought to trial. No need to. Even with a .25 caliber bullet in his heart Sheriff George managed to pull his gun, my replacement, and put five rounds into the man.
I like to believe that if I was there that day I would have somehow kept the Sheriff from being hurt. It was my job and I was somewhere else.
Junior put me in the back of the closet when he came home and there I stayed for ten years. Then he sold me to a gentleman from two counties over. Sometimes life is full of little surprises.
But I grew to really enjoy my new owner. He was former military like Junior and he never got tired of the excitement of matching his skills against others. I was still very fundamentally sound, and really hardly used at all even after all those years. He took me to a gunsmith and had me slicked up, and outfitted with the nicest trigger job you can imagine. There wasn't a shooting match for years that he didn't dominate with me as his partner. Those were the days where I was almost as happy as I was with Sheriff George. I wasn't protecting the community as I had been, but I was in the hands of a man who loved me, and I stayed in his nightstand every night guarding his family.
Shame and Redemption
And then in 1970 I got stolen. By a criminal. And began the darkest period of my life. Passed from hand to hand to hand. Some times traded for a couple bottles of booze, or a twenty dollar bill here or there. I once was even traded for a one-night stand with some pimp's whore. Before I knew it I was somewhere outside Atlanta, Georgia.
In the process someone took a hacksaw to my beautiful barrel and chopped off an inch. Someone else took a grinder to my hammer spur and ground it down halfway down. I was hideous looking. I don't even want to think about it.
Convenience store robberies, strong arm robberies, even a sexual assault or two. I was forced to participate in them all. I was designed to protect people. To help the innocent. If a gun has a soul mine was beginning to despair that I would ever again be able to be the gun I was made to be.
All this time I was never ever fired. At all. Not in anger, not for intimidation. Not even for practice. By now I was so dirty that I feared that anyone attempting to fire me would find that it was safer being in front of my barrel instead of behind it.
Sometimes I was even left along for long periods. The last time was for five years, tucked away behind a wall where no one could find me. I thought I was going to spend eternity there, but I was happy that I no longer was being used to hurt people.
But the peaceful life I was living, if you could call it that, ended when a teen drug dealer was looking for a new place to hid his stash. His day was made when he pulled me out and thoughts of power began running through his head - especially about ripping off his new supplier that very night. Keep the money... keep the drugs also. What could be easier. And I saw my future was never going to get better, only worse.
But much to my new owner's shock, and certainly mine also, his new supplier turned out to be an undercover policeman who had busted a lot of teenage drug dealers with illusions of power. He was more than able to grab my cylinder and clout the kid upside the head with a pretty good smack from his other hand. Turns out the dealer hadn't even bothered to load me.
So I sat again. This time in the evidence room. Surrounded by other guns of all kinds, and every known tool that could be picked up and harm someone. I laid next to a hoe for five years. Not the kind that is out on the streets but the gardening kind. Seems a man couldn't agree with his wife over where the tomatoes should go in the garden and whacked her a couple of times with it to "get her attention."
They tried to track down my owner, but back when I was stolen the record keeping in that part of the country was less than efficient. So I sat.
Then one day about a month ago all of us gun were loaded up and dumped into boxes. We were taken into a large room filled with people of all kinds. It turns out the department was auctioning off the older guns no longer needed to authorized firearms dealers in order to raise money for new weapons. Those new-fangled semi-automatics that apparently really seem to have caught on.
I had one bid. Ten dollars. And I was sold.
Five days later, with nothing more than a wipe with a rag to get the dust off, I was in a gun show with hundreds of guns on the table. No one looked at me but I could hardly blame them. Ugly, filthy, and most of my finish gone. One of my grips had been cracked in half and fixed with duct tape. Duct tape! My price was fifty dollars. Most people there would not have taken me for free.
But I knew that I was mechanically sound. Almost as good as the day I left the factory. Smith & Wesson built me strong for a purpose. Cosmetically I was junk. Inside I was still a beauty if only people could see it.
Towards the end of the show one man did stop and pick me up. He offered twenty dollars for me, and told the dealer that it was a shame an old gun like me had been so abused that I was worthless but he could strip a few needed parts from me. They settled for twenty five.
And so that was to be the end of me. Dismantled and junked. Even so... better than where I had been the past 28 years.
But I wasn't.
My new owner knew guns. And he saw what no one else saw. An old charger that was still more than capable of being useful with just a little be of love. Well, okay. A lot of love.
He took me to his gunsmith the next weekend and told him to do what was necessary to make me workable.
I was cleaned, and cleaned again. I was sandblasted and lost all my original finish, but then, miracle of miracles, I was given a brand new finish. Not that I'll ever look as good as I did with my factory finish... but this one looks pretty good. My insides were all brought back to specs, and the gunsmith marveled at just how well I had stood up all those years.
I found myself with another half inch off from my barrel, but this time with all the care in the world, and with it recrowned and 100% fully functional. New front and rear sights, also. My hammer was left ground down, but it was smoothed off and grooved so that it could still be used if necessary, but it wouldn't catch on anything.
And fancy rubber grips!
But what was I to be used for? That was the question. I dared not hope that I could, once again, be a blessing to our society, not a bane.
My new owner only had me for a few days. But it wasn't like the last time that I went through revolving owners, if you pardon the pun. After he got me back from the gunsmith he took me to the range with his girlfriend and they put several boxes of .38 specials through me. There's quite a difference in those rounds between then and now, let me tell you. It was quite a kick. But I was built to take anything that was put into my cylinder, and I did.
He gave me to his girlfriend, Suzie. She loved me as much as he did. And it seems that she had a real problem with someone who had gotten fired from where she worked. He blamed her for what he considered a ruined life. He had made several threatening phone calls to her, and had been seen hanging around outside her place of employment and her apartment.
All I knew was that I had my purpose back... my mission. To protect the innocent from harm.
Last night we were coming home together. I was in Suzie's purse, in a special holster designed just to allow a woman to carry a gun there. I was getting used to a new normal after only a few days. And everything did seem normal.
Except that her former co-worker had worked up enough drunken courage to carry out his threats. Some people just can't cope with life.
As she stepped up to open her car door the sliding door on the van next to us opened, and he stumbled out with a big kitchen type knife in his hand. Suzie froze as he began waving the knife in her face and uttering threats that I don't even want to repeat. Even the low-life drug dealers that owned me never spoke to a woman that way.
Suzie was frozen like a statue, and I knew that I was going to have to face the agony of losing another owner to a violent act... another friend that I could do nothing to save. I was there, ready to be used. But Suzie had to do what she had to do by herself.
Suddenly Suzie opened her eyes wide, and looking over her attacker's shoulder whispered, "Oh, the police are coming."
He turned to look, and lowered the knife. By the time he saw there was no police in view and turned back to us Suzie had me out of the purse and pointed at him.
Yes, to answer your question that you've been waiting so patiently for. I have taken a life. Last night. A drunken sot who refused to accept that a woman with a gun is more than his equal, even if he is armed with a knife and alcohol fueled rage. He took one step forward towards Suzie, and it was just like the hundreds of times that I have been at the dump. The bullet was on target, the rat was killed dead - but this time an innocent was saved.
Now I am back in the police evidence room. It seems like some things never change. But they told Suzie that I should be back out and in her custody with a few weeks. Just some paperwork with the prosecuting attorney's office. They found in the van a suicide note detailing just what Suzie's attacker had planned for her. After reading that the only criticism the police gave Suzie is that she should have emptied the whole cylinder into him just to be sure.
And I will remain Suzie's protector until she no longer needs me. Then, hopefully, someone else will give me a home where I can do what I was built to do. Defend the innocent and protect the weaker. If guns do have a soul... mine has finally been redeemed.
[I hope you enjoyed this story and I invite you to browse around at some of my other published work. I think you'll find something you like.]