HAVING had an opportunity to examine a number of arms taken from members of gangs operating in and around the city
of Chicago, it occurred to me that an analysis of the types and calibers of these weapons might be of interest to readers
In conjunction with a study of these guns, I have had also an opportunity to examine projectiles recovered from the bodies
of 74 men killed in gang warfare. These included 169 bullets, buckshot, core fragments and jacket fragments from some 78
different weapons. An analysis of these, in conjunction with that of the arms which I examined, will serve to give a more
comprehensive idea of the weapons and ammunition employed by members of the Chicago underworld.
My figures on the arms examined cover only the first 44 submitted to me; but the percentages elicited from "these will
probably hold for a larger number. The outstanding fact was that 39 of these arms were of the best qualities obtainable, and
but 5 of inferior grades. This is contrary to a generally prevailing impression that the average gangster, especially of foreign
origin, employs any old weapon available.
The next thing that attracted my attention was the fact that practically all barrels were in good condition. Very few showed
lack of care, and but one or two were in really poor shape. This would seem to indicate that the gangster appreciates the
importance of not only having an arm of good quality, but of keeping it in the best of condition.
Five among the 44 weapons examined were Thompson submachine guns, two of these carrying Cutts Compensators, the
other three being without ~his attachment. Here the percentage of good barrels was much less, since two of the five pieces
showed barrels in very poor condition.
A study of the calibers showed 32 of the 44 arms to be of .38 caliber or greater, while 19 were of .44 caliber or larger. The .45
automatic pistol cartridge seems to be a favorite one, 14 of the weapons handling this type (5 of these were machine guns),
while the .38 Special comes next in favor, 13 guns being chambered for this cartridge. Three of the weapons were shotguns,
one of 20 gauge and two of 12 gauge. Their percentage of the total (7 per cent) does not correctly represent the percentage
of killings with guns of this type, for when we analyze our series of fatal projectiles, to follow, we find 11 shotgun shootings
in a total of 74, or 15 per cent.
The fact that an arm may be traced by a serial number is common knowledge among the hoodlums, for 14 of the 44 arms
examined had had the visible number erased. In 8 instances, however, hidden figures revealed the original factory serial
numbers (one of these arms showed fictitious numbers externally), while in one case the external numbers, although
defaced, were still legible. Hidden as well as visible numbers had been completely erased on 3 arms. Hidden numbers were
partially removed in 2 cases, but could probably have been restored by proper methods.
Of the 5 machine guns examined, 4 had had numbers erased. On the fifth they appeared in their original condition. With
them six drums were received. Three of these bore numbers undefaced, 1 was unnumbered, and 2 had had numbers filed off.
The average owner of arms for legitimate purposes has no cause to tamper with or deface numbers appearing upon them.
It is true, of course, that many of the .45 automatics and revolvers once used in the A. E. F., and later "salvaged" by those
to whom they were issued, show numbers that have been tampered with, said tampering having been done by gentlemen
who wished to possess these arms as souvenirs of their military service without the danger of Uncle Sam later claiming title
to them. Apart from arms of this caliber and type, however, it is rare to meet one the numbers on which have been erased
other than for homicidal purposes. One-third of the weapons I examined had had their numbers tampered with, which
spoke ill of the character of their owners.
Referring once more to machine guns, the fact that they numbered 5 among our series of 44 arms shows that the usefulness
of such weapons in gang warfare has been grasped by the lower clement, which has put them to extremely practical use
during the past few years.
Our series of fatal projectiles, which it will be recalled included 169 bullets, buckshot and bullet fragments from 78 different
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