Dillinger’s Derringer

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts, and wild tales from the outdoors

July 15, 2009

Dillinger’s Derringer
With the July 1 release of the blockbuster movie “Public Enemies,” and the
subsequent resurgent interest in 1930s bank robber John Dillinger, a pair of
firearms inextricably linked to the Depression-era hoodlum will be auctioned in
coming days. Also this week, you’ll read about a tax holiday for sportsmen and
much more!

"Public Enemies" Spawns Gun Auction
A Remington .41 cal. rimfire double derringer found hidden in bad guy John
Dillinger’s sock at the time of his January 1934 arrest in Tucson, Ariz., will
be auctioned by Dallas-based Heritage Galleries on July 25. The historic gun is
expected to fetch between $35,000 and $45,000, according to the auction
company’s website.

J.R. Absher

Manufactured by Remington Arms, the unique firearm marked the first of the
derringer genre, with each barrel able to fire individually by means of a
pivoting firing pin operating on a ratchet. About 150,000 of the guns were
manufactured between about 1866 until around 1935.

Frankly speaking, the .41 rimfire cartridge of the era was considered
anything but a powerhouse caliber, to be sure. It was sometimes said that a
bullet fired from the pocket pistol would bounce off gun leather and fall
harmlessly to the ground.

At the same time, some infamous gunfighters of the 1920s and 30s admitted they
would rather take a slug from a .45 than from a .41 rimfire. They reasoned that
a .45 cal. bullet would probably pass through a man and offer a treatable
wound, while a .41 would probably remain imbedded, potentially festering and
lead to deadly infection. (Remember, these were pre-penicillin days.)

In addition, a .38 Colt Army Special carried by Capt. Timothy O’Neil of the
East Chicago Police Department on the day Dillinger was shot and killed outside
the Biograph Theater will be offered for auction on July 22 — a date that
coincidentally marks the 75th anniversary of the gangster’s demise.

Though some law enforcement historians question whether bullets fired from
O’Neil’s .38 Colt actually hit "Public Enemy Number One" on that
sultry July evening in 1934, the gun is expected to bring as much as $12,000 at
this week’s auction.

Louisiana Hunting Gear Tax Holiday Bill Becomes Law
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal put his signature on a law last week that creates
an annual 3-day reprieve from state sales tax on hunting gear in The Bayou
State, when the 4 percent tax will be waived on purchases of a wide variety of
guns, ammunition, ORVs, and other outdoor gear.

On its way to Gov Jindal, the Louisiana Senate voted 34-0 to establish an
annual "Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday" the first weekend in
September. The annual tax break weekend will affect all sales between Friday
and Sunday.

As defined by Senate Bill 52, the tax break only applies to consumer
purchases and defines hunting supplies as "any tangible personal property
for the use of hunting."

The list includes such things as archery supplies, off-road vehicles and
vessels such as ATVs, airboats and pirogues, accessories, animal feed, apparel,
shoes, bags, float tubes, binoculars, tools, rangefinders, treestands, blinds,
chairs, and holsters.

33 AGs Support NRA In 2nd Amendment Case
A total of two-thirds of the nation’s attorneys general have filed an amicus
brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case of NRA vs.
and hold that the Second Amendment applies to state and local
governments through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The 33 attorneys general, along with California’s attorney general in a separate
filing, have concurred that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental
individual right to keep and bear arms in the home for self-defense,
disagreeing with the decision recently issued by a three-judge panel of the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The Seventh Circuit claimed precedent bound it from holding in favor of
incorporation of the Second Amendment. However, it should have followed the
lead of the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Nordyke vs. King,
which found that those cases don’t prevent the Second Amendment from applying
to the states through the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

The Seventh Circuit opinion upholds current bans on the possession of
handguns in Chicago and Oak Park, Ill.

"The historical record clearly shows that the Second Amendment was
intended to apply to every American in every state in the country," said
Chris W. Cox, NRA chief lobbyist. "As the Supreme Court said clearly in
last year’s landmark Heller decision, the Second Amendment protects an individual right that
‘belongs to all Americans.’ Two-thirds of America’s state Attorneys General

PA Game Commission Tweaks Crossbow Regulations
By a 4-3 vote last week, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners gave preliminary
approval to a regulatory change that would allow use of crossbows statewide for
only the first two weeks of the early archery deer season and for the complete
early and late archery hunts in three selected Wildlife Management Units. 

In April, a Board comprised of several different members than the current
commission voted to allow the use of crossbows for the entire 5-week archery
only deer and bear-hunting seasons.

Since that time, the regulations have been printed and distributed
reflecting that regulation.

A second vote and publication is required before the change is official for
the fall 2009 season.

Under the proposal given preliminary approval, any archery license-holding
hunter could use a crossbow during the first two weeks of the statewide early
archery deer season (Oct. 3-16); only disabled hunters with a permit to use a
crossbow could use them for the remainder of the early archery season, as well
as all of the late archery season. Crossbows would continue to be legal for all
deer seasons, including the early and late archery seasons, in WMUs 2B, 5C and

Only those with a disabled person permit to use a crossbow could use a
crossbow during the two-day archery bear season. Lastly, crossbows could be
used by any muzzleloader license-holding hunter in both the October antlerless
muzzleloader season (Oct. 17-24) and the late flintlock muzzleloader season
(Dec. 26-Jan. 9).

Quote Of The Week
"Compared to football, fishing helps build character; when you lose to the
fishes, you can’t blame it on the officiating."
-Paul Quinnet
“Fishing Lessons,” 1998

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear
in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors
weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at

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