Pennsylvania police department to toss records, keep Tommy gun

Dec. 12, 2013 at 4:49 PM
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SHARON, Ohio, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- A Pennsylvania police chief said housekeeping efforts to clear storage space will not affect a Thompson submachine gun reputedly bought to fight John Dillinger.

Sharon Police Chief Mike Menster said the announced project to get rid of some old records to free up storage space will not mean the sale of the .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun, which local legend holds was purchased for the department by a bank to dissuade Depression-era outlaw John Dillinger and his gang from robbing banks in the area, the Sharon Herald reported Thursday.

"The legend is that Dillinger was robbing banks in this area in the 1930s," Menster said. "I've been told the Tommy gun was bought for the department by McDowell Bank, but I don't know if anybody could confirm that. The story goes that all the banks were worried about being robbed and they knew Dillinger had a Tommy gun so they wanted to level the playing field."

Lt. Gerald Smith said the police department had previously looked into selling the Tommy gun to raise funds for modern weapons, but the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms forbade the department from selling the gun to a museum.

"It was bought for law enforcement use and they told us in a letter that it could only be used for law enforcement or sold in parts," Smith said.

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