Guns: Inanimate. People: Animate

Published 9:51 pm Thursday, March 5, 2020

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To the editor:

This is a firsthand true story I use as an example to support my opinion about keeping the Second Amendment intact. After reading it, if you wish, feel free to use it as part of your discussion.

To set the stage, we must jump into the “way back machine.” In February 1968, my wife and I were married while I was on leave from the Air Force. Within two weeks, we flew back to Sacramento, Calif., where I was stationed. In August 1968, my aircrew received orders to rotate back to Vietnam. Can you see my — or our — dilemma?

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To help my wife feel secure and confident, we decided to purchase a handgun. We needed a gun that she could feel good about and would be considered a defensive weapon. We shopped around and bought a Hi Standard, 22 long-rifle, 9 shot double-action revolver with a 9.5-inch barrel. The serial number of our revolver is 1902702. All of this is technical but absolutely necessary to the story.

Within a few minutes, the background paperwork was filled out and 1902702 was legally registered. After about five trips to the base firing range, my wife become very competent with the revolver. Revolver 1902702 became a key addition to our home security system.

The same model revolver with serial number 1902708, only six digits apart in the production run, has a whole other story — a criminal story.

Revolver 1902708 started out legally but was stolen during a burglary on the night of March 12, 1969. Records show that through a series of trades, it found its way into the hands of Charles Manson (yes, that Charles Manson) and became his favorite shooter for target practice. Manson used it to kill a drug dealer “ripping off” Tex Watson. Later, Tex used revolver 1902708 to shoot and bludgeon three people to death. On Aug. 8-9, 1969, the infamous Tate-LaBianca or “Helter Skelter” murders were committed. Tex pulled 1902708’s trigger!

After the murders, 1902708 was tossed out of a car window by the fleeing killers, later found and then tied to the murders soon thereafter. In late 1969, the FBI called us to see if we still had revolver 1902702, and we did!

Revolver 1902702 is safe and still on family security duty. Revolver 1902708 is in an evidence locker, or more probably destroyed by now.

These two paths clearly show it is a human problem, not a gun issue. The contrast is so vast! How did this confusion ever happen in America?

Joe Garlitz