Choppers & Coppers


Faking the death of Public Enemy #1 is nothing new for the US government. Neither is blaming crimes on the wrong guy. It should be remembered that Osama bin Laden immediately denied involvement or knowledge of 9/11, stating that it is never okay to kill non-combatants. But that didn’t stop the government from giving us a fake video of a chortling fat phony bragging on how he pulled off the second Pearl Harbor. It was just a new variation on an old theme. Now they’ve killed someone in Pakistan along with several other someones, and dumped his corpse in the ocean! What the hell?

One thing about America, it has a lot of gun people. One good thing about this country is that we’re all expected to be armed. Good guys, bad guys – doesn’t matter. Now, cops don’t like that. Cops want just them and the bad guys to have guns, so that when they cut someone down who has a gun, well – it had to be a bad guy. That’s the tricky thing about a concealed weapons permit. We don’t need no stinking permits. Keep ‘em guessing.

Like most Americans I come from a long line of gun people. On my mother’s side, they go way back. My favorite was an uncle named John Reynolds, from Pennsylvania, who was giving the finger to Santa Anna at the Alamo with the other hard guys in 1836. On my father’s side, they only go back to him, since he was the son of Scottish immigrants. Guns weren’t real big in Scotland. He conned his way into the Marines in 1916 at age 17, lying about his age and stuffed on bananas to get his weight up. Parris Island was not a happy experience and he hunted down his DI after the war to kill him. When he found the guy in a coldwater walk-up in Brooklyn, and the shape he was in, he said the hell with it.

Anyway, we gun people like our guns and we all have our favorites. Mine is the Colt Single Action Army revolver. There’s just something about the shape that makes it a thing of beauty and a joy forever. And not just any one of them. For me it has to have been made from 1896 to 1917. During that period the trigger guard had a rounder shape than the original (and later) flatter bottom. It’s a visual thing but also easier to get your finger in there. And for me, it has to have the four and three-quarter inch barrel.

I’ve been fortunate, in better times, to have had a couple of them. One was a .45 from 1916 and the other a .44-40 from 1896. That one I traded a German MG-3 machine gun straight across for it. The .45 was about two numbers off from George Patton’s similar job, although his was engraved and silver-plated with ivory grips. He ordered his right from Colt in 1916 when he was down chasing Pancho Villa, which turned into a typical American fiasco of the first order. He must have paid fifty bucks for all that engraving, but he was independently wealthy. Standard models were about fifteen dollars. He shot a couple of Mexicans with it, most notably Julio Cardenas, Villa’s top aide, off his horse as he charged the American invaders at a ranch near Rubio.

I did have one with ivory grips, too. The Colt Armory Edition, that came with a spare cylinder that handled .45 Auto cartridges. I was pretty proud of it until learning that all third generation Colt revolvers are castings, rather than forged and machined. I called the Colt factory in Hartford and the customer service gal said, “Yes, we do that to save you money.” I said, “Lady, if I’d wanted to save money that way I’d have bought an Italian knock-off.” I sold it the next day, pretty disillusioned about the sad state of American manufacturing.

So it is pretty amazing that the old Colt factory was bought by some real gun lovers who have been turning out exact replicas of the original Colt Single Action revolvers the old fashioned way under the name US Firearms. And they use the rounder trigger guard. Forged and machined from solid steel on CNC machines.

The old Colt is not the most practical thing in the world for most people, I admit. It just feels good in your hand and is very nice to look at. William Mason was the unsung Colt machinist and inventor who designed the revolver for the US Army, which was demanding something stronger than the old open-top frame insisted on by Samuel Colt, who had died in 1862. Ten years later, Mason designed the revolver with the strap on top of the cylinder plus the nifty ejector rod and housing he’d put on earlier conversions. The shape and reliability of Mason’s design have never been improved upon. Interestingly, there is still nothing faster for the first, second and third shots in the hands of a master. There is no firearm that can go from hands off to three-shots-fired more quickly than this old revolver. Some of the fast-draw wizards can shoot three rounds before you could pull a cocked trigger.

I’ve been reading William Helmer’s The Gun That Made the Twenties Roar, about the Thompson Submachine Gun. I’ve always been a big fan of the Thompson, too. Not the original 1921 model but the Savage version from 1942, called the M1A1. I first encountered one in Rhodesia in the police armory. It had been taken off a ZAPU terrorist and we were encouraged to familiarize ourselves with all the captured weapons, which were mainly Soviet and Chinese. But that old 1942 Thompson created in me an interest that lasted for years.

The original Thompson was something of a fraud due to its superfluous Blish lock mechanism that served no purpose in the action of the bolt going back and forth as cartridges were loaded and empty brass ejected. Nevertheless, the gun was the only automatic available that fired pistol rounds, which was where John Thompson got “submachine,” from the sub-caliber ammunition it fired compared with the full caliber rifle rounds fired in machine guns. Al Capone was one of the early guys to put the gun to use and managed to buy a dozen of them over the years. His most notorious use of them was on Valentine’s Day, 1929 at the N. Clark Street garage where his killers lined up six of Bugs Moran’s guys plus a rich dilettante named Reinhardt Schwimmer who was schmoozing with gangsters at the wrong time.

The big city booze gangsters of the 20’s started using less spectacular weapons against each other in the 30’s but the mid-west bank robbers got their hands on Thompsons, BARs and automatic shotguns, stealing from the banks that stole from the people.

My uncle Lyle, something of a tear-ass himself, was tooling down the road in east Texas one day in 1933 when some folks came around him as if to overtake. But they stayed next to him and signaled him to pull over. That was a silly thing to do to Uncle Lyle and he gassed it. His new eight-cylinder Pontiac was a little stronger than their Ford flathead and he started pulling away. Eventually they fell back and quit chasing. A few miles up the road, he encountered a police roadblock and stopped. The cops looked him over pretty carefully. “What’s the problem?” The cop said, “We’re looking for some people in a Fordor.” “You know, I was racin’ a Fordor back there a ways. They gave up.” The cop looked at him. “Well, that was Bonnie and Clyde, mister. They probably wanted this car.”

By far the most impressive of the Depression outlaws was John Dillinger. Just about everything we ever heard about this guy was true except maybe the way he died. Just about everything we heard about the other desperados was propaganda made up by the cross-dressing homosexual fascist named J. Edgar Hoover, to justify and glamorize and expand the totally illegal organization of national gangsters he called the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For example, Machine Gun Kelly never fired a shot in anger but got life in Alcatraz. Hoover gave George Kelly his lethal but phony nickname.

Charlie Floyd had been robbing banks and paying people’s mortgages in Oklahoma so obviously this couldn’t go on. Hoover accused him of killing a fed, some cops and a gangster in the Kansas City Massacre, but there was no evidence of it and “Pretty Boy” repeatedly denied any involvement, since he was no hired gun or killer. Since then, ballistics have shown that most of the damage was done by another cop who couldn’t control his own Thompson chopper. A wounded Floyd was executed in an Ohio cornfield by an FBI killer ordered by Melvin Purvis to use his Thompson on him. His funeral was Oklahoma’s biggest to this day – forty thousand mourners paid their respects. Hoover probably was wishing he’d dumped Pretty Boy in the Atlantic.

By far the most amazing guy in those days or any days was John Dillinger. As a kid in Indiana he’d made a foolish deal with a prosecutor and copped a plea on a minor charge. The government lawyer double-crossed him and Johnny got ten-to-twenty and did nine. Paroled in ’33, he broke friends out of prison and they broke him out of jail. They raided Indiana police stations for their Thompsons and started a bank-robbing spree. He and his guys slugged it out with cops and killed a dozen or so. Captured peacefully in Tucson, the cops broke the rules and flew him back to Indiana where he was looking at the electric chair. When he arrived he joked with the lady sheriff and reporters and the prosecutor who vowed to see him executed, leaning on his shoulder. He told the sheriff he wouldn’t be there long and she promised he would. She put him in her new escape-proof jail in Crown Point. The jail was patrolled by dozens of National Guard and armed vigilantes.

A couple of months later, Johnny produced a realistic-looking wooden gun and bluffed twenty jailers with it, locking them up. He grabbed two Thompsons from the gun room, took two hostages and motored leisurely out of town in the sheriff’s own car, which naturally got both her and the prosecutor fired. He drove to Chicago and ditched the car but Fruity Hoover went into action with the excuse that he had driven a stolen car across a state line and broken his first federal law. The mighty FBI was on the job.

Less than a month later they stumbled on Johnny in St. Paul but he had his Thompson chopper and opened up on them, allowing himself, hit in the leg, and his girlfriend to escape down the back stairs to their waiting car. A few weeks later, the FBI had him and his boys spotted in a north Wisconsin resort hotel known as Little Bohemia. Fruity’s finest opened up on three innocent customers as they walked out to their car, killing one of them and wounding the others. Johnny and his gang shot it out with the feds, killing one and wounding two cops. They got away again. John Dillinger was the Segovia, the Chet Atkins, of the Thompson submachine gun.

Fruity Hoover had a crush on Melvin Purvis. To read his love letters to his favorite special agent is nauseating, as documented by Anthony Summers in his amazing book on Hoover, Official & Confidential. This is where we learned that Hoover and Roy Cohn and mobster Lewis Rosenstiel in the 1950s had regular orgies with call-boys at the Plaza Hotel, with Hoover in a black chiffon dress and garters and false eyelashes, reading from the Bible as he enjoyed the boys, all reported by Rosenstiel’s bemused wife, who was invited to watch.

But back in 1934, Hoover put Purvis on Dillinger’s trail and the trail led to Chicago again. Purvis forced a woman friend of Johnny to betray him at the Biograph Theatre and Purvis’ gunmen shot him from behind. Or shot a guy named Jimmy Lawrence and called him Dillinger. Jimmy was a few inches shorter and had brown eyes instead of Johnny’s blue eyes. But it was close enough for Hoover, who called it good. Melvin Purvis had executed “Public Enemy #1” and became a national celebrity and Hoover got jealous, quickly dumping his extra-special agent, who would die of a gunshot wound to the head, naturally labeled a suicide.

Lester Gillis, better known as Baby Face Nelson, who’d been with Johnny at Little Bohemia, was attacked by a couple of Fruity’s finest in Barrington, Illinois a few months later. Herman Hollis, the executioner of Charlie Floyd, and Sam Crowley were armed with a Thompson and a shotgun and opened up on Gillis, who demonstrated the perfect immediate action drill and charged the ambush, firing his Thompson from the hip, killing both feds. It would have been perfect except he was hit in seventeen places and they found his body in a ditch twenty miles away. But you can’t fault his style.

That was about the end of the Depression desperados, except for the Ma Barker gang that the feds attacked down in Florida in ’35. A newspaper account reported that Fred Barker had given ol’ Ma the hundred-round drum for her Thompson and he took the fifty-round drum for his. There’s no finer example of a son’s love for his mother. Their drum magazines were both empty when the fight was over, in the best Oklahoma tradition.

J. Edgar Hoover is a symbol of the corruption that swamped the American government in the 20th Century. This foul character pretended there was no such thing as organized crime right up to the early ‘60s, when Joe Valachi revealed the Italian subsidiary of Meyer Lansky’s crime syndicate that Hoover was really protecting. Lansky had Hoover in his pocket due to the federal fairy’s gambling habit and his lust for homosex. Hoover was allowed by the mob to forget his losing bets at the racetrack, where he spent all his time with lover-boy Clyde Tolson, the FBI’s second-in-command. In return, Hoover didn’t acknowledge Lansky’s control of the rackets or bother him one bit. Lansky bragged that he had pornographic pictures of Hoover and Tolson which made him bulletproof.

Today, of course, the FBI’s corruption continues with its protection of the 9/11 criminals in Israel and Washington and New York and its deliberate failure to investigate vote fraud and bank fraud and the felony lies by the White House that have put us in several illegal wars of aggression. The FBI works with the CIA and the army in shocking crimes of kidnap, torture and murder of innocent people, not to mention the deaths of millions of Moslems since 1991. The latest outrage is the FBI’s failure to investigate the ATF for supplying the Mexican drug cartel with thousands of small arms in an attempt to nullify the 2nd Amendment. Since Attorney General Eric Holder is nominally the overlord of the FBI and is apparently involved in this scheme to disarm Americans that has gotten US agents killed by those weapons, it is understandable that the FBI looks the other way.

But what the FBI really is was illustrated in 1993 when the New York office, led by James Fox, instructed its informant, Emad Ali Salem, to construct a powerful bomb and supply it to terrorists who exploded it in the basement of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, with the idea of collapsing it into the South Tower and killing perhaps fifty thousand people. This was Plan B to involve us in the War on Islam, Plan A having been the US/Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. Plan C eight years later was finally successful, again with the complicity of the FBI.

And now the mastermind of 9/11, Public Enemy #1, has been assassinated in Pakistan, the body disappeared and the crime scene burned down. Shades of Waco and the World Trade Center. The American system of justice.

Forget it, Jake – it’s Chinatown.


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