Gun Control

D.C.'s Cache of Seized Illegal Guns Has Antique Rifles and Paintball Guns, But Few Bump-Stock-Compatible Weapons

I sent a FOIA request to the lab that processes guns seized by police in the nation's capital. Here's what I found out.

|

Alec Ward

When I wrote recently about D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's proposal to ban bump stocks, I noted that the legislation would be entirely strategic and/or symbolic, since D.C.'s gun laws already outlaw most guns that can be readily fitted with a bump stock.

But I was still curious about how many illegal bump-stock-compatible wepaons there might be in the District. So I sent a Freedom of Information Act request to D.C. government asking for details on the district's illegal guns.

In response I received a spreadsheet from the D.C. Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS), which forensically processes illegal guns that fall into the hands of the city police. The spreadsheet details the make, model, and caliber of 2,192 guns processed in 2017.

Here are a few things I learned from the data:

1) Very few of the guns on the list were bump-stock-compatible.

First, a disclaimer: Determining whether a gun will accept a bump stock is not always a straightforward yes/no classification. The question is complicated by homemade bump stocks, custom fabrications, and the like. For these purposes, I called a gun "bump-stock-compatible" only if it was a semi-automatic AR-15 or AK-47 pattern rifle or carbine. Those types of firearms are, as far as I could determine, the only ones for which bump fire stocks are currently manufactured and sold at any kind of mass-market scale.

Using those parameters, I found just 27 guns on the list of 2,192 which were bump-stock-compatible. That's 1.2 percent, which suggests it is unlikely that D.C. has a significant problem with bump stocks being used in crimes.

2) Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority were pistols.

Amidst national debates about mass shootings, bump stocks, and "assault weapons," it often seems to get forgotten that, nationwide, handguns play a vastly larger role in gun crime than do rifles ("assault"-style and otherwise) or shotguns. The DFS data reflect that. Judging by the caliber, at least 1,800 of the 2,192 entries were semi-automatic handguns or revolvers.

3) A surprising number of antique and historical firearms appear on the list.

Before seeing it, if you had asked me how many bolt-action infantry rifles from World War I and before would be on the list of guns seized by police in D.C., I'd probably have said zero. But I'd have been wrong. The list included several antique rifles, including a handful of bolt-action rifles that would have been military standard issue around 1895 or so. How these guns ended up in the custody of the Metropolitan Police Department is anyone's guess. (Maybe someone's unregistered antique firearms collection was discovered?) As a history enthusiast, I cringe at the thought of these rifles, which wouldn't be out of place in a museum, being destroyed.

4) Some of these guns weren't guns at all.

I noticed that several entries in the list I received gave ".177," ".68," or "6mm" as the caliber of the gun in question. These aren't common bullet calibers, so I looked up the makes and models. As it turned out, the "6mm" entries were all airsoft guns, a realistic toy weapon which shoots a 6mm plastic sphere at velocities too low to break the skin. The .177s were BB and pellet guns, something I should have been able to guess from the fact that the manufacturer was listed as "Daisy." And the .68s? I thought initially that these might be some sort of muzzle-loading hunting rifles, but nope. Google provided the answer: paintball guns.

How exactly it came to be that 15 airsoft guns, 46 BB guns, and 4 paintball guns were sent to D.C.'s crime lab for forensic analysis, I don't know. It's certainly possible they were being carried as decoy guns (which is still illegal in D.C.), but I somehow doubt they'd provide much in the way of useful ballistics. Oh, well.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

61 responses to “D.C.'s Cache of Seized Illegal Guns Has Antique Rifles and Paintball Guns, But Few Bump-Stock-Compatible Weapons

  1. The vast majority of crimes and murders in this country are committed using handguns. Criminals generally want to conceal their weapons. It is a bit hard to conceal the evil star shooting, baby killing, AR 15.

    “Assault Weapons” bans are just long gun bans. And since criminals rarely use long guns, such bans just make criminals out of hunters and gun nuts.

  2. IF IT ONLY SAVES ONE LIFE

    You’re such a monster, Alec.

    1. Literally putting the existence of rifles above the lives of people who could have been killed by those rifles. For history.

      Unbelievable.

      1. Yet, cancer-causing tobacco as a delivery method of nicotine, which literally kills hundreds of thousands of people per year in the USA, is totally legal to buy without so much as showing ID, let alone passing a background check, and taking a safety class which includes hands-on training and assessment by a certified instructor.

  3. including a handful of bolt-action rifles that would have been military standard issue around 1895 or so.

    Those rifles are deadly out to about 500 to 1000 yards depending on how good of a shot you are. Not that they should not be legal, they should. But one of the many lies the gun control loons tell is that evil “assault weapons” and “semi automatic guns” are any more deadly than “Hunting rifles”, which of course no gun loon ever wants to ban, he promises on book of Gaia and the Light Giver Obama.

    1. I served in the Marines in the 80s. Never heard the term assault weapon or assault rifle used.

      However, my MOS was 0351(2) – Anti-tank Assault. Assault is what we did, not our weapons.

      1. It actually once had a meaning. It comes from the famous German Rifle the Sturmgewehr 44. Sturmgewehr means “assault rifle” in German. The StG44, as it was known, was a really brilliant design that was developed from the lessons learned in both World Wars. The Germans figured out that infantry rarely killed anyone at long range. So, their beautiful K98 8mm Mausers were not really suited to the job of modern infantry combat. They didn’t have a high rate of fire and their range and accuracy didn’t come into play very often. The Russians had armed a lot of their troops with submachine guns. The Russians were king of the submachine gun. The Germans liked the rate of fire but thought a pistol cartridge was not powerful enough. So, they split the difference and built a select fire automatic rifle that used a medium cartridge, have way between a pistol round and a full long rifle round. It turned out to be a perfect compromise. That is what the AK 47 and the M16 are based upon. And that is where the term “assault rifle” comes from. It was supposed to mean a semi automatic rifle that fires a mid-sized cartridge, as opposed to a sub machine gun, like the Thompson that fires pistol rounds, or a full automatic rifle like the BAR that fires full rifle rounds. Now the term just means whatever bullshit the gun control loons want it to mean.

        1. It was supposed to mean a semi automatic select-fire rifle that fires a mid-sized cartridge, as opposed to a sub machine gun, like the Thompson that fires pistol rounds, or a full automatic rifle like the BAR that fires full rifle rounds.

          The Sturmgewehr and the Gewehr sets of rifles are distinct in 2 main ways. The ‘Sturm’, meaning ‘storm’ or ‘assault’ (as in blitz) and the fact that every gewehr rifle was a semi-automatic (analogous to the M-1). If the term ‘assault rifle’ existed in history, it was invented by the Nazis and specifically referred to a weapon that was capable of both semi-automatic and fully-automatic fire and rather distinctly *not* semi-automatic only weapons.

    2. including a handful of bolt-action rifles that would have been military standard issue around 1895 or so.

      Mosin Nagant? There are youtube videos of guys sighting those in at over half a mile.

      1. I was being conservative. You can hit things at longer range than a 1000 yards if you are really good. But you have to be really really good.

        1. I wasn’t disagreeing, I was just pointing out a 19th century rifle that can hit a steel target with a big motherfuckin’ bullet at .62 miles. That’s some next level pimp shit right there. Don’t fuck with Czar Nicholas.

          1. I own a 8mm Mauser that was a gift from my gun nut brother. That thing is a fucking cannon. You better have it tight on your shoulder when you fire it. A couple of years ago during one of these media gun panics, some hipster doofus reporter went out and shot a AR 15 and wrote a story describing how horrific it was. I would love to have taken him out and let him shoot that 8mm. Talk about straight to Youtube fame.

            1. I have handguns which are harder to fire than an AR.

            2. My Mosin-Nagant 1891 infantry has iron sights marked out to 3,200 arshins (2,276 meters). Even held tight, I can only fire a few rounds before my shoulder hurts. I never had a problem firing multiple rounds of 308 or 30-06.

              1. That probably has more to do with the design of the stock and the steel butt plate. .30-06 and 7.62x54mmR are fairly comparable cartridges, with the .30-06 actually being a bit more powerful.

    3. Well, they don’t want to ban them yet. Gotta get the “assault weapons” first.

      Then they’ll go for the bolt-action rifles: “Sniper rifles! Can kill from 20 miles away! Nobody needs a sniper rifle!”

      Then the shotguns: “Street-sweepers! Can kill hundreds of people with one shot! Nobody needs a street-sweeper!”

      1. Then the handguns. Saturday Night Specials. Cheap killers. Who needs something that cheap and that deadly? Who?? Never forget, today’s common sense control is tomorrow’s loophole that must be closed.

  4. This raises an important question, which is ‘will those antique firearms be sent to auction’?

    1. Sadly, none. they are supposed to be destroyed. But forgive me for being a big cynic and thinking a few of the choice ones end up in some DC cop’s closet.

      1. That’s not being cynical, that’s being a realist in my view. Seems like a damn waste, although at the same time the government seizing property and then reselling it might bother me more.

        1. A quick scan of the list shows several I wouldn’t mind having. Colt Python, several Cobras, Browning & FN Hi-Powers, S&W model 10s for everyone, break top S&W revolvers, a Garand, M1 carbine, many Mossberg 500s, Mosin-Nagan, an L42A1. Some interesting stuff and I’d wager some of it would bring a pretty good price.

          Hmm, $25 each for the whole lot. What do you say D.C.?

          1. I saw one or two Taurus Judge .454/.410 which I wouldn’t mind bidding on, assuming we could actually examine them first. Criminals tend not to clean their weapons properly after use.

      2. That’s why Arizona made it illegal to destroy confiscated guns. They must be resold at market. State even sued the city of Tucson for violating the statute.

  5. Paintball guns? I was promised no one was coming for my ordinary, non-scary looking weapons that have reasonable uses. Because law should be made based on what some fucking grandma thinks people need or don’t need.

    1. Common sense gun laws.

      Ha!

      1. Actual common sense gun laws simply state that the constitution is correct, thou shall not infringe.
        Either repeal the second amendment, or sit down and shut up.

  6. As a history enthusiast, I cringe at the thought of these rifles, which wouldn’t be out of place in a museum, being destroyed.

    Maybe they went to that warehouse that stores the Ark of the Covenant.

  7. A small quibble. 6mm is a _VERY_ common rifle caliber. .243 Winchester, .244 Remington/6mm Remington, .240 Weatherby Magnum, etc. We use them to hunt small game/varmints, and smaller big game (deer). Generally they’re the “starter” hunting rifles.

    1. The 6mm is a very common deer rifle in places where the deer don’t get very big. If you live up north where they have mule deer, you use a .270. But if you live in the south and don’t need something that will go through the brush, a 6mm works just fine.

    2. Crosman, Tippman and “unknow 6mm are all airsoft. There’s a bunch of BB guns listed under the weapon they’re a copy of too.

    3. .177 is also fairly common. I love shooting ground squirrels with my .17 HMR

      1. .17 HMR shoots a .172 projectile, the same as my .17 Rem. Fireball. The HMR is probably a better choice for small game as the Fireball is, unfortunately, messy. The .177 is exclusively air gun territory.

      2. How can you love shooting squirrels (unless it’s the ones responsible for the double posts)? What about the hypocratic oath and all that?

        1. Squirrels are rodents. Basically, they’re rats with fluffy tails.

  8. That Schmeisser MP40 9mm don’t need no bumpstock.

    Good to see a Manlicher-Carcano. Is it the JFK model?

    A Hell of a lot of S&W 10-6s. I bet they’re all police trade-ins.

    The usual garbage guns, Rohm .22 short, Bryco, Jennings, Jiminez…etc.

    I’d take that Astra Cub .25, though. Especially if it was engraved nickel with MoP grips. That’s pimpin’.

    Sad to see a Savage .22/.410 over-and-under. I want one of those.

    Gotta go down the list more…

    1. Good to see a Manlicher-Carcano. Is it the JFK model

      Wealth is really wasted on the wealthy. If I were one of these internet billionaires, I would totally buy Manlicher, if it still exists, or the name if it didn’t, and make a JFK model. That would just be fucking awesome. You know how many people would buy that just to hang it on their wall?

        1. They need to make a “Model JFK”.

          1. “Ich bin ein Berliner!” I’m pretty sure even the Austrians would laugh at that.

            1. You’re a pastry?

    2. Savage over/under was the first gun I shot when I was maybe 6 or 7. Very heavy, so no kick even with the shotgun. I think it belonged to my grandfather or even great-grandfather. It’s still in the family somewhere.

      They should ban it. The VA Tech shooter used a high-powered .22 pistol, and that rifle was firing the rounds much faster. You can also follow up with an ultra-powerful shotgun blast! Who needs a gun that shoots two different types of bullets back-to-back!?

      1. John Hinkley almost killed Reagan with a .22 pistol. Who needs a gun powerful enough to almost kill the President? Who?

      2. I owned a Walther p22. The only gun I have ever sold. It was very picky on ammo and the grip was to small for my hands. I prefer revolvers myself, looking at a Ruger SP1 in either .327 (what I really want) or .357 for carry.

        1. I kept getting pipe stem jams either that Walther unless I used the most expensive ammo. I shoot .22 because they are cheap and fun. I also felt it was over engineered.

          1. I use 60 gr Aguila Sniper Subsonic in my p22. The twist is quick enough to stabilize it and the heavy slug is enough to reliably cycle the slide so far. It’s not really flat shooting but for close work on garden vermin from the kitchen window, it works.

        2. Ruger makes a Series 7 in 327 Federal mag. It is a seven shot. Tipsley’s has it in a bird head grip. Lots of fun to shoot. Of course it is a SA.

        3. Same here. I tried to shave the hammer a bit as that what it was catching on but took a bit too much off.

    3. Re: That Schmeisser MP40. I was thinking that must be a real sub-gun as I’ve never seen a semi-auto conversion but it could be a DEWAT.

      1. ATI has been importing a semi auto MP-40 9mm clone with no stock for about a year. They also import a 22LR rifle with the stock and a fake suppressor barrel shroud around a pencil barrel.

    4. I hear ya about the over/under although mine is an older .22 Hornet/20 gauge. Used it to teach my kids to shoot and hunt. Still looking for a second so each kid (now adults) have one to teach their kids how to be responsible firearm owners/users.

  9. Interesting research. Well, actually, not really to anyone who knows firearm crime statistics.

    I’m tired of fighting the ignorance. Gun control advocates are winning in a war of attrition. Props to them for tapping the endless energy reserves of know-it-all teenagers this time around.

    1. In any compromise with evil, evil always wins. Because evil knows that it can break the camel’s back with enough straw.

  10. Interestingly, Daisy produced the first gun to use caseless ammo, the Daisy V/L. But the ATF shut down production of it ruling it was a firearm and not an air rifle

    1. Actually, no they didn’t.

      The first guns to use self contained caseless ammo were produced by Volcanic Repeating Arms all the way back in 1855, using a bullet design called the Rocket Ball patented in 1848.

      The Rocket Ball, patented in 1848 by Walter Hunt, consisted of a lead bullet with a deep hollow in the rear, running a majority of the length of the cartridge. The hollow, like that of the Minie ball, served to seal the bullet into the bore, but Rocket Ball put the cavity to further use. By packing the deep cavity with powder, and sealing it with a cap with a small hole in the rear for ignition

  11. No Pop Tart guns?

  12. You mention the paintball guns, the bb guns, and the airsoft guns. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the half dozen guns listed as caliber .22 blank which I would presume are starter’s pistols of some sort.

    1. Starter’s pistols? Or nail guns, maybe.

      1. Nope, definitely starter pistols

        2 RTS model 1966

        Mondial 999

        EIG 999

        BBM OLYMPIC 6

        model 6

        There’s one with both make and model listed as unknown that I suppose could be a nail gun.

  13. Is this an open challenge to design bump stocks for the handful of long guns mentioned in this list?

    It should be possible to build a kind of cage-shaped bump stock around the butt of the Lee Enfield L42A1, for instance. It would increase the length of pull a bit, but hey, accuracy isn’t the point of a bump stock.

  14. The DC mayor and police dept. wallow in self chosen and oh so convenient “ignorance” that is sufficiently blatant as to constitute grounds for removal from office, it seems to me.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.