Mob Guns

From notorious bank robber John Dillinger’s prohibition-era revolver to an arsenal of weapons owned by Ma Barker and her gang, the FBI’s cache of firearms holds almost every gun ever made.

These fascinating photos give a rare insight into the Bureau’s 80-year-old collection which is kept at the FBI laboratory in Virginia.

With an inventory of more than 7,000 weapons, the endless racks of guns provide a reference point for the laboratory’s firearms examiners to support criminal investigations.

 

 
Arsenal: The FBI has a collection of more than 7,000 guns at its laboratory in Virginia
Arsenal: The FBI has a collection of more than 7,000 guns at its laboratory in Virginia

 

 
Hidden: The vast collection of weapons even features a pistol hidden in the cut out pages of an early edition of Gone With The Wind
Hidden: The vast collection of weapons even features a pistol hidden in the cut out pages of an early edition of Gone With The Wind

 

 
Disguise: A submachine gun hidden in a violin case is among the reference library of weapons held by the Bureau
Disguise: A submachine gun hidden in a guitar case is among the reference library of weapons held by the Bureau

 

 
John Dillinger
Ma Barker
 Notorious: The FBI collection even features weapons belonging to the likes of bank robber John Dillinger, above, and gang leader Ma Barker, below
 
Infamous: John Dillinger's .45 calibre, pictured, is among the guns in the FBI's collection
Infamous: John Dillinger’s .45 caliber, pictured, is among the guns in the FBI’s collection

Among the more unique items in the collection are an old Thompson submachine gun hidden in a guitar case and a pistol hidden in cut out pages of a rare first edition of Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

Notorious depression-era bank robber John Dillinger’s .45 calibre and raider ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd’s Colt 1911 are held in the vault. 

The unique collection includes accessories like silencers and muzzle attachments as well as more heavy duty weapons such as grenades and rocket launchers.

A file of more than 15,000 types of ammunition are also kept on file.

John Webb, a firearms examiner for the FBI, said: ‘This collection is used in active cases in comparing known samples from our collection with question samples from the field.

‘Often, an investigator will receive a part of a firearm or a firearm that isn’t functional.

 
Unique: A key ring which doubles up as a tiny pistol is kept for reference by firearms examiners
Unique: A key ring which doubles up as a tiny pistol is kept for reference by firearms examiners

 

 
Reference: The collection features almost every gun ever made. Some are from closed criminal cases, others have been donated and some are bought by the FBI
Catalogue: The collection features almost every gun ever made. Some are from closed criminal cases, others have been donated and some are bought by the FBI

 

 
Helping with investigations: As well as the guns themselves, the collection also houses a number of firearms accessories including silencers and muzzle adaptors
Helping with investigations: As well as the guns themselves, the collection also houses a number of firearms accessories including silencers and muzzle adaptors

 

 
Evidence: Many of the guns in the collection were initially seized as evidence in closed cases. They are taken to the lab to be archived or completely destroyed
Evidence: Many of the guns in the collection were initially seized as evidence in closed cases. They are taken to the lab to be archived or completely destroyed

‘We can take that and compare it with our reference collection, determine what isn’t functioning, and repair it so we can obtain the test fires we need to conduct examinations with bullets and cartridge cases.’

Most of the staggering collection of firearms comes from closed investigations, others have been bought by the FBI and some even arrive as donations.

In most instances, the guns are held as evidence in court before being sent back to the lab where experts can either add them to the reference collection or destroy them completely.

 
Forensics: The guns are used by firearms examiners to crack new cases involving guns
Forensics: The guns are used by firearms examiners to crack new cases involving guns

 

 
Closer inspection: The inventory has been amassed over an 80 year period. Some items are just parts of retired weapons which can be matched up to firearms used in modern day crimes
Closer inspection: The inventory has been amassed over an 80 year period. Some items are just parts of retired weapons which can be matched up to firearms used in modern day crimes

 

 
Crucial: The FBI aims to duplicate every firearm in existence with the belief that sometimes a case could hinge on linking a firearm component to a similar part on one of their reference guns
Crucial: The FBI aims to duplicate every firearm in existence with the belief that sometimes a case could hinge on linking a firearm component to a similar part on one of their reference guns

 
Historic: FBI scientists have been using the gun vault for 80 years in a bid to crack crime
Historic: FBI scientists have been using the gun vault for 80 years in a bid to crack crime

The FBI aims to duplicate every firearm in existence with the belief that sometimes a case could hinge on linking a firearm component to a similar part on one of their reference guns.

John added: ‘The collection has been extremely useful in criminal cases. It has been directly responsible for assisting to solve crimes.

‘We are only a small part of this collection, it was here long before I was, and it will be here long after I’m gone.’

 
Storage space: The vast collection is stored at the FBI's laboratory in Virginia, pictured
Storage space: The vast collection is stored at the FBI’s laboratory in Virginia, pictured

Not Your Local Watering Hole

Inside the speakeasies of the 1920s

Prohibition bars are all the rage in New York City.

But today’s over-priced, often pretentious, watering holes are nothing like the speakeasies of the 1920s and ’30s they’re trying to recreate.

Ninety years ago, there were hundreds of illegal drinking spots in New York, and the speakeasies – which were often just a hidden room with barely drinkable booze – were mostly run by gangsters.

While many of today’s incarnations will disappear as quickly as they’ve popped up, some of the infamous night spots of the prohibition era have stood the test of time, making an unforgettable mark on the fabric of New York.

 
Cotton CLub
The Cotton Club, pictured, was a famous jazz music night club located in Harlem, New York City, and
operated from 1923 to 1940

 

 
Cotton CLub
Yankees star Joe DiMaggio dined at the Cotton Club after the opening game of the 1937 World Series

 

 
 
Cotton Club
Cab Calloway leads the band at the New Year’s celebration of 1937 at the Cotton Club

 

 
Cotton Club
After prohibition, celebrities and New York’s elite flocked to the Cotton Club to be seen

Two of the Big Apple’s most popular speakeasies were The Cotton Club in Harlem and the Stork Club, which was originally on 58th Street in Manhattan then moved to 53rd Street.

After prohibition ended in 1933, the bars became magnets for movie stars, celebrities, wealthy New Yorkers and showgirls. 

Chumley’s on 86 Bedford Street in Manhattan was also a popular speakeasy, opening in 1922, three years into prohibition, on the site of a former blacksmith shop.

When warned of a police raid, the Chumley’s staff were told to send their customers out the Bedford Street door. For some reason, the police would always enter through the Pamela Court entrance, allowing the customers to escape without being seen.

 
Stork Club
The popular club was owned by Sherman Billingsley, pictured in 1945

 

 
Stork Club
Nancy Davis and Ronald Reagan enjoy a drink at the Stork Club before their marriage in the early 1950s

 

 
Stork Club
A young Elizabeth Taylor was photographed at the Stork Club flanked by her mom and dad in 1949

 

 
 
Stork Club
Mrs. Ernest Hemingway, Mrs. Leland Hayward, film star Spencer Tracy, producer-actor George Jessel,
and theater-tv-movie producer Leland Hayward enjoy dinner and a chat at the New York night club in 1953

 

 

Stork Club

A taxi pulls up to the entrance of The Stork Club as people standing under the awning watch

Chumley’s became a favorite spot for influential writers, poets, playwrights, journalists, and activists and was even mentioned in an episode of ‘Mad Men’ as a destination for after-work drinks. It sadly closed in 2007 when a chimney collapsed in its dining room.

Connie’s Inn on 7th Avenue and West 131st Street gave the Cotton Club a run for its money, booking jazz acts like Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, and Fletcher Henderson. But the bar shut down as soon as prohibition ended, seeing no fun in selling booze legally.

Landmark Tavern opened its doors in 1868, long before the government banned the booze. The tavern, located on what was then the waterfront of the Hudson, started as an Irish saloon and the family who ran it lived on the second and third floors.

When prohibition was imposed, they had to transform the third floor into a speakeasy in order to support themselves. The bar was never raided and has been open consistently since 1868.

 

Chumley?s ? 86 Bedford Street

Chumley’s on 86 Bedford Street in Manhattan was also a popular speakeasy, opening in 1922 on the site of a former blacksmith shop

 

 
Chumley?s ? 86 Bedford Street
The New York City favorite, pictured, closed in 2007 when a chimney collapsed in the dining room

 

 
Connie?s Inn ? 7th Avenue and West 131st Street
Connie’s Inn on 7th Avenue and West 131st Street gave the Cotton Club a run for its money

 

 
Connie?s Inn ? 7th Avenue and West 131st Street
Connie’s Inn, pictured, booked jazz acts like Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, and Fletcher Henderson

 

 
 
 Casa Blanca
Larry Fay of New York’s Gangland, was killed New Year’s night 1933 at the bar the Casa Blanca

Attribution:  Helen Pow

Hold it Properly

It’s a familiar sight seen in dozens of  Hollywood gangster films: the gangster aiming down the side of his pistol before pumping a volley of bullets into his victim.

But with most people knowing that the aiming sights are found on the top of a gun barrel, it’s also a counter-intuitive way  to accurately fire a weapon.

So why is it that gangsters are always shown  using their guns in this way? According to Jon Davis, a former marksmanship  instructor with the U.S. Marine Corp, there is a good reason, at least in theory.

Which is best? researchers have analysed the reason gangsters often hold their gun sideways - and say it can actually help aimWhich is best? researchers have analysed the reason  gangsters often hold their gun sideways – and say it can actually help aim

As a specialist in pistol marksmanship and a veteran of the war in Iraq, Mr Davis has fired these kinds of weapons thousands of times.

He explains that when aiming a handgun in the conventional, barrel-up manner, the rear sites must line up with the front sight in the horizontal and vertical planes to make sure the bullet travels a straight line.

This important technique, known as ‘building the castle’ since the gunman has to line up the three ‘turrets’ into an even position, ensures that the barrel of the gun is aligned perfectly along the trajectory he wants the bullet to travel.

The problem with ‘building the castle’ each time you want to fire your gun is that it takes time. Time you might not have in a combat situation – or alternatively when you want to quickly execute your victim and make a fast getaway.

'Building the castle': This graphic shows the conventional way to line a target up using the sites on the top of a handgun‘Building the castle’: This graphic shows the  conventional way to line a target up using the sites on the top of a handgun

Instead, gangsters – albeit unkowingly – use another method to get what’s called a ‘flash sight picture’ by quickly aiming down the side of the gun barrel without perfectly lining it up with the target.

The ‘flash sight picture’ is a way to quickly get an aim that’s good enough for combat but without worrying too much about  being totally precise with your aim.

Marines do it too, Mr Davis says, but they hold their guns the right way up.

'Flash sighting' - gangster style: Mr Davis explains that this method is a much faster way of aiming a weapon, but it is much less effective for aiming accurately‘Flash sighting’ – gangster style: Mr Davis explains  that this method is a much faster way of aiming a weapon, but it is much less  effective for aiming accurately

In answer to a question on quora.com Mr Davis explains: ‘The problem with tilt style shooting is that it is almost impossible to acquire a reliable sight alignment. The alignment in tilt style is achieved by making the weapon flat and aiming down the side.

‘In theory this works, but in practice you  can’t accurately measure movement left or right and you have absolutely no way  of knowing if the weapon is tilted down below your field of vision from the back  of the weapon.

‘This means that you never actually take the same shot twice since you are never actually aiming the same way.’

This, Mr Davis adds, shows that there is in fact a rational method behind why gangsters aim their weapon side on. However,  it’s not a particularly good method – and they probably don’t realize that there’s method to it at all.

The research sheds new light on why holding a gun sideways can help aim under pressureThe research sheds new light on why holding a gun  sideways can help aim under pressureAttribution: Damien Gayle

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

Under the category of, you can’t make this stuff up.

As you read this short article, keep in mind, Chicago has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. Translation; Only the criminal can get a gun.

If you are one of the lucky ones to receive a permit to own one, you may not be able to keep the gun you have or buy the one you want. You see, they have also developed a list of firearms, about a mile long, the city has deemed as “unsafe” and cannot be owned, under any condition.

So let’s just celebrate with the citizens of Chicago, their great achievement.

From The UK Daily Mail:

The city of Chicago marked its first 24 hours without a shooting or a murder in almost a year.

Wednesday was the first day-long break without deadly violence since early in 2011 in the city, which is known the world over for its historical ties to Al Capone and Prohibition-era gangsters.

“This is clearly the result of the tremendous police work of the men and women of the Chicago Police Department”, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy announced yesterday, reports NBC Chicago.

Last year, 1,000 more officers were put on the streets of Chicago, which has one of the highest crime rates in America.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy announced the first murder free day in 12 months.

“Since May, the Chicago Police Department has put more officers back into districts working to keep our communities safe. Introduced CompStat, a data-driven approach to fighting crime; and empowered district commanders and given them increased resources to reduce violence in their districts”, McCarthy added.

“While we are making progress, we still have work to do. And will not be satisfied until we significantly decrease the number of murders in every community throughout the city”, McCarthy added.

Last year Chicago saw fewer murders than in 2010 except for the Englewood neighborhood.
Police recorded 419 murders, down from 437 in 2010, reports NBC.
Englewood saw a 40 percent increase with 56 people killed in 2011.