Investigator Weapons: The Reverend’s Guns

Although he had two bulletproof vests and two revolvers, the Rev. Martin Green, colored, pastor of a church at 4421 South State street, went to the offices of the Detective magazine yesterday and tried to purchase a Thompson machine gun [sic]. The police were notified and he was arrested. His only explanation was that he wanted to be sure he was able to protect himself and his congregation. Dr. William Hickson of the psychopathic laboratory is to examine the minister.

Chicago Daily Tribune, “Well Heeled Colored Pastor Tries to Buy Machine Gun” (20-AUG-1926)

 

The 36-year-old reverend had come to the right place – “Al” Dunlap, editor of the magazine The Detective at 1029 South Wabash Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, had a thriving side business selling steel-lined Dunrite “bullet-proof” vests (GURPS High-Tech, p. 66; Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, p. 49) of his own design and make, and Thompson submachine guns in .45 ACP (GURPS High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, pp. 28-30; Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 87-89). Dunlap distributed no less than 65 of the submachine guns during the 1920s, at least three of which ended up in the hands of gangsters like “Fred Burke” or the Touhy Gang ‒ he was not always as circumspect about his customers as in this instance. John Dillinger’s favourite Model 1921AC submachine gun had originally been supplied by Dunlap to a sheriff’s office before it was stolen by Dillinger.

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High-Tech: Caseless Ammunition and the H&K G11, MP11, and MG11

The streamlined plastic butt of an H&K didn’t exactly hurt, either, and Rydell could see one peeking out of Svobodov’s open flak vest. Couldn’t remember the model number … Shot that caseless ammo looked like wax crayons, plastic propellant molded around alloy flechettes like big nails … Orlovsky was pulling out his H&K … Nothing in the world ever sounded like caseless ammunition, on full-auto, out of a floating breech. It wasn’t the sound of a machine gun, but a kind of ear-shattering, extended whoop.

– William Gibson, Virtual Light (set in 2005)

 

Ever since the 1980s and for much of the 1990s we have been promised caseless ammunition and the advanced weapons firing them. If not now, then very soon. Science-fiction authors and designers of games like Cyberpunk 2020, Shadowrun, and Twilight: 2000 were positive that we would see them in the immediate future. Even industry authorities were taken in by the hype. Master Gunner Ian Hogg claimed in Jane’s Infantry Weapons, 17th Edition (1991) that the famous H&K G11 assault rifle and its 4.73×33mm caseless ammunition were in production and had already been issued to West German “special forces” in 1990 ‒ when in fact the rifle actually never entered production and furthermore the Bundeswehr had no such forces at the time, unless one counts the tiny Kampfschwimmer (combat diver) and Fernspäher (long range recon) units. Similarly, Sergeant Kevin Dockery erroneously reported in his appropriately named book Future Weapons (2007) that at least 1,000 G11 rifles had been produced …

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Gangster Gats: “Red” Barker’s Ghouls

A band of ghouls seeking to rob the grave of George (“Red”) Barker, slain claimant of the gang power of Al Capone, was driven from Mount Carmel cemetery in a heated gun battle early today.

News Journal, “Gun Battle Is Staged Over Grave of Gangland Leader” (22-JUN-1932)

 

I have previously expressed doubt whether gangsters and Mythos investigations are a good fit. I am still not entirely convinced, but you could probably make it work. Recently I stumbled over an article in the Chicago News Journal, which reported that on 22-JUN-1932, shortly after midnight, four or five “ghouls” had tried to disinter the body of Chicago Outfit member George “Red” Barker in Section 26 of the Mount Carmel cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. Continue reading “Gangster Gats: “Red” Barker’s Ghouls”

Tactical Shooting: Mission: Impossible ‒ Fallout

Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible ‒ Fallout (2018) is the latest instalment in the somewhat tired but still fun Mission: Impossible franchise. The highly cinematic films are prime examples for GURPS Action scenarios. Nevertheless much of the shooting is actually reasonably realistic. I take a look at a short scene in which IMF Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) shows off his gunfighting skills, and analyze how it would play out in GURPS terms, specifically using GURPS Tactical Shooting.

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Investigator Weapons: Charles Reber, Armed Investigator?

In the 1930s, Charles Reber, a US Army veteran of the Spanish-American War and an ex-Major with the Oklahoma National Guard, was a pioneer ballistics and fingerprint expert with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation & Identification, who consulted on numerous cases.

This alone would make him an interesting example for an Investigator of the Mythos. During the hunt for Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, he was also painted as a template for an Armed Investigator in newspaper articles like “One-Man Army Rigs Auto for Sudden Battle” in The Fresno Bee (08-JUN-1934):

Though he looks like a staid schoolteacher [!], is quite and unassuming, Reber is as expert with a gun as with his ballistics apparatus … Inside his sedan he has rigged out a rolling arsenal. By reaching up with his left hand he can pull a sawed-off shotgun, loaded with buckshot, from a rack in the car. With his right hand he can claw down a Browning automatic rifle. Reaching forward he can pull a Thompson sub-machine gun from a rack on the dash of the car, where it is flanked by holders containing clips [sic] of ammunition. In the seat with him he can reach a Colt .45 automatic or a long-range German Luger automatic of smaller caliber, but deadly accuracy. On the floor, in a case, he can reach hand grenades, [tear] gas bombs and extra clips [sic] of ammunition ‒ shotgun shells, high power rifle cartridges and pistol ammunition, all carefully arranged to be “handy.” In the back seat, for long range work, he has an old Krag-Jorgensen [sic] army rifle, made famous in the Spanish-American war for its deadliness. Its sights are carefully adjusted, with wind gauge, elevation, and important other arrangements. Continue reading “Investigator Weapons: Charles Reber, Armed Investigator?”

Investigator Weapons: The Strange Case of Harold Severy

Everything had gone fine until 1915, [Harold Severy] said, when he noticed that people were sticking their tongues out at him. Severy believed that his persecutors had a ringleader, and that lodges had been organized in various cities to torment him. His enemies, he thought, obtained advance information of his whereabouts and plans, apprising each other by underground communications. He tried to escape them by moving from New York to Baltimore, he said, but they caught up with him. Still trying to escape, Severy fled to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Chicago … Returning East, he came to Albany, where his tormentors soon caught up with him and began to cluck their tongues at him. Severy decided finally, he said, that the only way to stop the persecution was to shoot with a … gun.

New York Herald Tribune, “Albany Terror of ʻ16 Dies Mad at Matteawan” (22-JUL-1936)

 

On 01-FEB-1916, 25-year-old Harold Severy, dubbed “Jack the Shooter” by the press, was arrested in Schenectady, New York, for the murder of James Irving and the assault of three others. He had shot them on 28-JAN-1916 in Albany, New York, with a .22-calibre Stevens single-shot rifle without stock that had been fitted with a Maxim Model 1912 sound suppressor and a wire assembly to trigger the shot with the gun concealed up his right sleeve and the wire being pulled by a twist of his right hand.

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Tactical Shooting: Public Enemies

Gentlemen, shortly you will be provided Thompson submachine guns, BARs, and uh, .351 Winchester semiautomatic rifles. We are pursuing hardened killers. It will be dangerous.

– Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Melvin Purvis in Public Enemies (2009)

Michael Mann’s Public Enemies (2009) is but the latest effort to bring the life of infamous bank robber John “Johnnie” Dillinger on the silver screen. It follows his exploits between autumn 1933 and summer 1934, but really concentrates on his affair with gun moll M. Evelyn “Billie” Frechette. As in many other Mann movies, the law enforcement side receives almost equal attention, here in the shape of Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Melvin Purvis. While Mann undertook extraordinary effort to bring the time to life through clothing, automobiles, firearms, and locations, he stuck less rigidly to the historical facts, including the timeline. Events have been moved forward or backward, people have been omitted or changed, etc. It has to be understood that Public Enemies is not really a historical film at all, unlike Bryan Burrough’s meticulously researched book Public Enemies (2004), on which it is based. It is still an excellent movie, not the least because of its awesome score and of course its actors, including Johnny Depp as Dillinger, Christian Bale as Purvis, and Stephen Graham as “Baby Face Nelson.”

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