Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Classic Western on the Moral Standing of Firearms

From the movie that gave Sean Connery his first name (seriously! He saw it and resolved to change his name from Thomas to Sean, which is pronounced “shane” by Scots).

At approximately 1:00 into this minute-and-a-half trailer.

Marian: “We’d all be better off if there wasn’t a single gun left in this valley.”

Shane: “A gun is as good, or as bad, as the man using it.”

And there you have it. The essential core issue of gun control, as stated in George Stevens’s classic Western Shane, released in 1953.

Before there was a “sporting purposes” test borrowed from a Nazi law by a Nuremburg prosecutor turned corrupt Senator. Before there was a Form 4473, import bans, Hughes Amendment, Lautenberg Amendment, “constructive possession,” Ruby Ridge, Waco, “Economic Wacos” and their hellspawn Choke Point. Before there was any of that.

A baby born while Shane was in theaters is closing in on retirement, but the argument, already centuries old when it was boiled down into two lines of dialogue for the movie, endures.

Alan Ladd’s character had the right of it.

A Tradition Upheld, Good Books Acquired

This post will be slightly more personal than usual, and it will be written in the first person. You see, my mother was a remarkable and curious person who lived nearly 80 years and spent all of them trying to slake an insatiable curiosity, a fortunate malady that was among the inheritances she passed to her sons. This insatiable curiosity is manifested, among other things, as reading and love for books that falls somewhere along the scale where passion and obsession are found.

Today would have been her 79th birthday.

She was buying books, in hopes of reading them, short days before her death after a long and physically arduous complex of illnesses.

We had a sort of mother-son tradition, when I used to visit the folks in Florida: the Friends of the Martin County Library operate a large used book store on the grounds of a large flea market in Stuart, Florida, and we would go there one day every weekend (the store, which is staffed by volunteers, is only open on weekends when the market is open). We would each buy a stack of books. They would be different books, of course: she read fiction and loved taut, sophisticated mysteries, especially 20th Century British writers; I sought out military non-fiction, although she did urge some novels on me, and I was always a better man for each of them.

Two Sundays ago, I went without her, for the first time. It was, perhaps, a tribute. The image is my stack of books (minus a couple already distributed among the bathrooms down south at Hogney World). You may see some ideas from some of these books emerge in the blog. Most of them await my next visit and return, at the wheel of a car; this trip was in the human mailing tube we call an airliner.


An interesting set:

  1. Landfall by Nevil Shute, a novel of Bomber Command in the early years of the British bomber offensive. Nobody really understands the staggering casualties the bomber boys (British and American alike) took. Shute captures well the “live for today” ethos that resulted, and the fragile, flickering flame of hope that gave them hope for survival, and for life beyond the war. Some of them would even get that. Shute’s most-read novel, On the Beach, isn’t close to being his strongest.
  2. Warday by Whitley Streiber and James SomebodyIcan’tread [ETA: Kunetka] is one of those 1980s novels of nuclear devastation that served Soviet propaganda aims. Some of them were Soviet-sponsored, some were by independent fellow-travelers, and some were by people who weren’t on the Soviet side so much as they, too had been scared by all the nuclear propaganda. If I remember, Warday is not a good novel, and it’s a tossup whether it’s of the first or of the second set. Streiber was a writer for hire, and it’s not like the KGB paid its agents of influence in unconvertible rubles. But I got it as a period piece, kind of like Mein Kampf or an argument for the divine right of kings.
  3. The Grim Reaper by Roger Ford is pretty much straight in WeaponsMan’s wheelhouse: a history of the machine gun. It’s more of a social history than a technical one, and it’s pretty interesting so far. Ever hear of the Ager gun?
  4. The Rogue Aviator by Ace Abbott. Somehow we think “Ace” was not on his birth certificate. A personal memoir of military and airline aviation in the F-4 Phantom and 727 era; a quick read.
  5. Days of Infamy: Military Blunders of the 20th Century by Michael Coffey. As God is my witness, I opened this three times and read some of it, and can’t retain what it’s about. That’s not an especially good sign. Indeed, I only recovered the subtitle by googling the sucker. My impression was that there was nothing new or rare in there and that it had a snide Hollywood tone, and looking online, I see it is a companion book for a TV show. You might wonder how something so shallow gets published — well, the author is the editor of Publishers Weekly.
  6. The History of LandminesI’ve already treated you to a detail or two from that. Good, slim, quality book by Mike Croll, a former British soldier and civilian mine removal expert. It turns out that ten years later, Mike rewrote and republished the book, now called Landmines in War and Peace.
  7. Declassified by Thomas B. Allen purports to be full of explosive declassified secrets, but a quick skim revealed nothing that hasn’t been covered in more depth elsewhere. This is an exploitation book to go with a TV series, which probably accounts for its superficial nature.
  8. Women in War by Shelley Saywell appears to be a 1980s propaganda tract by a feminist writer. Expect no humor whatsoever. Stories are selected for their Sisterhood Appeal and some are exaggerated; others apocryphal.
  9. Hunt the Wolf is a novel by former SEAL Don Mann; the protagonist is essentially a better Don Mann, but the book is a fun, fast read. One hopes that SEALs don’t “wing it” to the extent they do in this book.
  10. Tuxedo Park by Jennet Conant is the story of a wartime scientific lab sponsored by a secretive Wall Street potentate, told by his granddaughter and bearing on the “wizard war” of radars and sonars and passive detection systems.

In addition to those, there’s the bathroom books, including a photo history of SAAB and a couple others we can’t remember.

I have my receipt around here somewhere, but the total came to $28.

So, We Bid on Today’s Auction

At Rock Island Auctions (their online auctions require a second registration at

We might as well tell you what we bid on, although not how much. As you might expect, we bid on the AR-10 parts kit and the Walther from last night’s post, plus five more lots.

Screenshot 2015-03-28 09.12.41


We didn’t bid crazy large amounts, so odds are we won’t win a thing. Remember that there’s also a 17.5% buyer’s premium, meaning nearly a fifth more will get slapped onto whatever price gets hammered down for these items. Here’s what’s in those lots we bid on:

  • Lot 141 is an interesting .22 imitation of an AR-15 that was made in the 1960s and 70s. To get it we have to bid on the whole lot, which includes two “rubber ducks.” In the unlikely event we win, the “ducks” may find their way into a post (and then, perhaps, onto GunBroker. There’s actually a market for these things, albeit a limited one).
  • Lot 689 includes a lot of junk, but also some original AR-10 parts.
  • Lot 175 is three East Bloc pistols, two CZs and an East German, Ernst Thälmann Werke Makarov (Thälmann was apparently some kind of Communist Horst Wessel, and the commies renamed a looted arms factory for him) . We like CZs and these would plug East Euro collection holes. We doubt we’ll win because dealers can probably turn these arms into cash rapidly.
  • Lot 691. If we had these parts around we might build some FALs. Then, we might not. Note that (cue “Sesame Street”) one of these things is not like the other: the ringer is a G3 or CETME stock.
  • Lot 789. The previous-mentioned Walther Model 8. The condition seems only fair to us with a lot of untreated rust speckles on the slide. And you can occasionally find these in pawnshops, etc. cheap (less frequently, now that even a lazy shop owner can look things up on the internet). But they’re relatively uncommon.
  • Lot 10. A representative Brown Bess, we think an EIC model (the least desirable variant) but there’s not enough info in the post to be sure. They call the condition “fair” which may be a bit of a stretch. We bid low and don’t expect to win, but hey.
  • Lot 695. The previously-mentioned AR-10 parts kit. Looks like the Edgewater buffer is hosed, and the furniture is, as is usual for Portuguese guns, barely held together by crude repairs and/or falling off where the crude repairs aren’t holding up any more. Most of these have really crummy barrels too, so bidding on this is taking a risk. Still, we have one we could make receiver drawings off of, and occasionally an H&H (billet aluminum) or CKA (steel) receiver comes up on auction somewhere. Considering how few AR-10s were made by Artillerie Inrichtingen, a surprising number of these extremely historic firearms have survived in one mode or another. We want this, in part, to see if the BCG is a repark job!

So, did any of youse bid? On what?


1970s Rarity: .44 Auto Mag

Serial Number A00261, made in beautiful downtown Pasadena sometime around 1973, at a guess.

Auto Mag

This very early AutoMag is on the block at Here’s what the seller says:

AUTO-MAG, Original Pasadena model in 44 AMP caliber, all stainless with one mag. Serial number A 00261,this model is generally regard as having the most quality as all components were milled from Carpenter 455 steel stock. firearm probably has been fired but not recently due to rarity of ammo, 44 mag bullet in pictures are for size comparisons only . This firearms popularity rose from being in movies as the gun Clint Eastwood used as dirty Harry in ” Sudden Impact ” (1983)as well as Burt Reynolds in ” Malone ” in 1987.
6 1/2 ” with hard composite grips with no cracks or chips, stainless shows a few handling marks, good bore and one magazine. Must be sent to FFL,Money order preferred, shipping $ 30.00 USPS

via AUTO_MAG Original Pasadena , 44 AMP 44 AMP For Sale at – 13310225.

This is a rare example of early production; most Auto Mags were probably made in the el Monte facility in the 1980s, although there were perhaps a dozen attempts to restart production. Some details look a little beat up, of the “neglected” rather than the “abused” strain of “beat up”:

Despite the description of the parts as all milled, the cocking piece there is obviously a casting.

But the muzzle crown looks good:

Many more pictures at the auction listing. It’s not a like new piece, but would probably take to a light polish well.

Several things killed the AutoMag, the first being that it was even more unwieldy and fiddly than the Smith Model 29, the second that it was far more expensive than the equivalent-capability Smith, and the last being that it used oddball ammunition that was only intermittently available. (You could, and most AutoMag shooters did, make it from .308, .30-06 or any early-20th-Century Mauser caliber rifle brass, like the 7×57 or 7.92). But the biggest limitation on a weapon like this is what we call the general problem of superlatives in weaponry.

It’s a theory we’ve been thinking about that deserves a post of its own, but we’ll start it off here:

The General Problem of Superlatives in Weaponry

Generally, the weight and size of weapons are distributed around certain imaginary centerpoints of size and of weight.. Rifles stick close to 10 pounds loaded, indeed, infantry arms do, all the way back to the Roman pilum or Macedonian sarissa. Service pistols are two to three pounds and have four to six inch barrels, whether they’re Colt 1851s, 1911s, or tomorrow’s Next Great Thing. (Smaller pistols are made for undercover use, but only so small: Compare the size and weight of the Remington 1878 .41 RF derringer, the Model 36 Chief’s Special, the Walther PPK, or today’s, say, Smith & Wesson Shield or the new Glock 43).

Yet pistols and rifles have been made much larger, and much smaller, in pursuit of superlatives. The thing is, having the biggest pistol — which the AutoMag was, when it was new — is not an unalloyed good. It’s great for Hollywood (it’s big, shiny and has attractive lines, like a lot of the impractical things, and people, in show biz). But the whole idea of a pistol is to be a handy weapon.

We’ve been thinking about this since reading the book on animal armament. Extreme weapons, whether they’re an AutoMag, a Liliput, an 18″-gun naval monitor, or the long canines of Smilodon (“saber-toothed tiger”), tend to be self-limiting for all the same reasons that a “normal” size, caliber, recoil, weight envelope of such weapons has evolved.

Developed by a rotating roster of California entrepreneurs, most of whom lost their shirts on the project, the AutoMag was an evolutionary extreme — like Smilodon, again. It came in .44 and .357 versions, both made from rifle cases, the .357 necked down. The design objective for the cartridges was to match the performance of the Model 29 in an autoloading pistol.

44ampand44magUnlike the later Desert Eagle, no attempt was made to cycle the rimmed .44 S&W Mag. round in the auto pistol. Instead, a rimless version of the cartridge was designed. The casing was a little longer, but the overall length of both cartridges was the same, meaning that the same bullet (.429″) would be seated a little more deeply in the casing. The image at right shows a .44 AMP (l). next to a .44 Magnum.

The most famous name associated with the AutoMag (apart from Clint Eastwood, who directed himself wasting corrupt cops with it as “Dirty” Harry Callahan in Magnum Force), was probably California pistolero Lee Jurras, a household name in the gun culture at the time. Probably half the Automags we’ve seen have had Jurras carved exotic-wood grips.

The AutoMag has a great trigger, and great sights (for a stainless gun; you need to soot them or something) and is a blast to shoot, and very interesting internally. The rotating bolt is lifted right out of Johnson/Stoner rifle practice, but the gun works by short recoil, the barrel and bolt housing group recoiling a bit. Takedown is with a lever à la Luger or Nambu — very easy. It is a single-action auto pistol with a right-handers’ only safety (sorry, Ian). Despite its size, the single-stack grip works for most hands — it’s easier to reach the controls than on a Beretta M9.

The barrels interchange, and that’s all required to change calibers from .44 AMP to .357 AMP or one of several wildcats developed for the gun.

The early models were reportedly more dodgy in function that later AutoMags — it’s not a GI 1911 or Glock, that’s for sure, but it’s reliable enough for the sort of non-critical tasks it gets (fun shooting and some hunting). It is difficult to scope compared to a .44 Mag revolver and shares that handgun’s problem of eating all but the sturdiest scopes; in fact, it might be worse, due to the cycling of the barrel and bolt housing group.

In some ways the AutoMag was a solution seeking a problem. It wasn’t the best for hunting, it was impractical for self-defense (unless you had the size and dress code of that other 70s product, Darth Vader), it wasn’t a target shooting gun. What it was, was a very photogenic but expensive plinker. It was a Ferrari, a BD-5J, a Donzi racing boat; if you were a teenager you were consumed with lust for it, and if you were an adult, and the lesson of your last Ferrari tuneup bill hadn’t chastened you, you bought it.

If you were a canny gun store owner, you put one in your case just for the traffic it brought in to buy Ruger Mk IIs or a box of shotshells. It’s not like it would sell quickly, but people would come just to see it, and then they’d buy what they really needed — the same role that Corvette had been playing in Chevrolet showrooms for about 30 years at the time.

Like Smilodon, the .44 AutoMag today is extinct as a product, and in both cases the cause is the same: they were maladapted for the environment of evolutionary competition. But if you’re the sort of person who would stake a Smilodon in your yard and toss it a daily goat to stay on its good side, the AutoMag just might be for you.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Strategika

strategikaStrategika is a new-ish policy magazine published by the center-right Hoover Institution on, well, strategy.

Now, writers on strategy come in many varieties, most of whom do not impress. There are the board-gaming nerds (Strategy Page); the born-on-third-base journalists who assume the Airport Marriott bar is the country (Foreign Policy, and anything where Tom Ricks appears); and the pointy-headed academics, veterans to a man of Operation Ivory Tower: The Battle for Tenure. None of them has any material hands-on where the foreign-policy theory meets the real-world practice.

There’s some of that in Strategika and at Hoover, too, of course; it’s a branch of Stanford, which is as firmly fixed within the borders of Ivorytowerstan as any place on Earth. But it is populated by a who’s who of right-leaning academics and pundits, including (unlike its center-left competitors at, say Brookings) many experienced military men. For example, in the 18th March issue, an interesting mix including: Max Boot, Angelo Codevilla, Paul Gregory, Victor Hanson, Fred Kagan, Pete Mansoor, Jim Mattis, and Ralph Peters, address the practical question:

What additional future steps should the United States and Europe take, if any at all, to counter Russian ambitions?

via Strategika | Hoover Institution.

Each of those men writes an essay of considerable size and weight on the subject.

It is a timely report. Foreign Policy writes of Ukrainian Ambassador Olexander Motsyk begging for weapons in the USA (so far, he’s getting blown off). And in the Washinton Post’s Volokh Conspiracy law blog, Ilya Somin aggregates recent reports from the Crimea. The re-ethnic-cleansing of the Crimean Tatars, a renewal of a brutal and inhumane policy pioneered by Vlafimir Vladimorovich’s role model, Josef Vissarionovich, is grim news. Amnesty International and the Russian Presidential Council on Civil Society & Human Rights(!) have also reported on the human rights lapses in Russian-occupied Crimea. (The report mentioned in the Amnesty press release is here).


Now, as long as we have President Chamberlain on the case, none of these prescriptions will be taken. They do have potential, in that they will be read by foreign policy thinkers, who may or may not influence policy after the 2016 elections, but until then, Vladimir Vladimirovich and his little green men have a free hand.

Last Century’s Navy

For years, this short segment of a longer film was unidentified. But painstaking scholarship identified the subject matter as the Woodrow Wilson era US Navy, thanks to a keen eye for weapons: the E-2  class submarine went out in 1915, and the 14-inch shell for American’s dreadnought main armament came in in 1915. Ergo, 1915. And the discoverer, Buckey Grimm, labeled the short segment as part of a lost 1915 documentary on the Navy.  In it, along with the subs that the show begins with and some frightening antics with the 14″ shells, you get to see a bunch of sailors splicing ropes and making fenders. This guy is splicing rope with a marlinspike.

You also see some physical training of sailors and Marines, and some good scenes of the battleship Wyoming’s boat crew — apparently open-boat races were a thing. They’re shown in the boats, and also aboard ship, training with pulleys and weights in something that looks like a near cousin of the modern Concept 2 rowing machine. Unfortunately, there’s not much about Wyoming herself in the surviving segment, which is a pity — when she was laid down, she was a world leader in armament and propulsion, and she survived into World War II, albeit as a training ship, only being scrapped after the war.

Everyone in the film, of course, is long gone today, as is most of the movie — there were once three reels of it, and now these eleven minutes are all. You’ll have to go to the link to see it.

We are indebted to independent scholar Charles “Buckey” Grimm for identifying this 11-minute piece of the celebrated “lost” three-reel documentary U.S. Navy of 1915, produced by the Lyman H. Howe Company. (The piece had formerly been known only as “U.S. Navy Fragment.”) The film was made with the full support of the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, who believed in the power of motion pictures to convince isolationists of the importance of building a strong American navy. A former newspaperman who knew the value of publicity, Daniels allowed Howe’s camera crew remarkable shipboard access. The results show sailors as they go about their day—doing repairs, cleaning the deck, exercising, as well as demonstrating naval might. The film drew praise as capturing “the pulse-beat of the complex life that throbs through our dreadnoughts from reveille to ‘taps.’”

The film, of course, is silent; a dozen years would pass before the Jazz Singer signaled the coming unemployment of theater organists.

We don’t know how to re-embed this film, so instead we’ll send you to see it at the National Film Preservation Foundation. Weapons guys will be particularly pleased to watch gun drills on the 14″ naval gun. Apparently one guy stood right behind it — the Navy had big guns, but not recoiling carriages, yet.

It’s not only the only surviving film from US Navy of 1915, it’s also the only scrap of the life’s work of Lyman Howe known to remain.

There was an even earlier set of Navy shorts, which are believed to be completely lost. Films of that era were stored on extremely volatile stock, and promotional films such as these were not considered to have any value at all once they were no longer up to date.

Soporific Sunday

First day home, although taking the early flight yesterday was supposed to get us into Never Washed International in the People’s Republic before 9 Ack Emma, as the British Expeditionary Force used to say, and home by 10:30 or so via bus (these are nice commuter buses, not graffiti-spackled and miserable city-run, or convict-and-addict-packed Greyhound buses). Of course, that was before JetBlue managed to JetBlew up their computer system. Those of us who’d printed our boarding passes at home were all set, but the vast majority of the full-plane of travelers expected to get theirs at the airport. Zug.

When they finally got the thing going, the whole schedule was so ate up that the snowstorm we landed in in Boston was no big deal. Looking out the plane window, it was an arctic wasteland of blowing snow, blind-driving ground support vehicles and shivering ramp personnel. This place doesn’t need us, we thought, it needs Sir Ernest Shackleton. But Shackleton’s dead. Lafayette Street1, we are here.

We had rather hoped we would have come home to spring. It’s nearly Easter, for crying out loud. But now, we’re fearing that if Jesus comes out of the tomb and sees His shadow, it’s six more more weeks of winter. We have no idea what shape the Manor’s grounds are in (although bad is a pretty good guess) as they’re still covered by up to five feet of white, crystalline Global Warming. Al Gore has a lot to answer for.

Today is bright, sunny, and, as we have been told by those who remained that it has been all month, bitterly cold.


  1. A running joke. Every city and town in New England has a Lafayette Street (or Road or Avenue), usually a main drag down which the former Marquis’s post-revolution tour proceeded. The New Hampshire stretch of neon-lit US Highway 1 is known locally as Lafayette Road, and without it you can’t get there from here.

Friday Tour d’Horizon

We’ll be back in our own digs and on our usual orderly schedule soon enough. In the meantime, here are some things that deserved coverage this week and didn’t get it.

Yeah, we’re clearing the tabs.


Spectres with Frickin’ Laser Beams

AFSOC sees cannons on their way out:

The technology is almost ready to be outfitted in the service’s special operations fleet. Later, upgraded versions of the new AC-130J Ghostrider could be outfitted with directed energy weapons for precision targeting.

The service is testing its first AC-130J, and is building its next model with a new 105mm gun. The later versions, possibly in the 2020s, could remove the 105mm gun and replace it with a laser.

The service is not requesting money to begin the process of adding the laser to the AC-130J, but AFSOC commander Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold said he is hoping for more research and development funding to “flesh out the concept.”

The laser would be added to a gunship already packed with weaponry. The new version of the AC-130 will also have, in addition to the 105mm gun, a 30mm cannon, Hellfire missiles, Griffin missiles and small diameter bombs.

Beam my enemies down, Scotty.

Sometimes a Gun is Almost Too Beautiful

Some women are like that, too. This gun is a restoration of a Pieper (Liege) double-barrel. It’s available for about $2,500 on GunBroker.

pieper double


That’s so nice we ought to show another picture, no?

pieper double 2

Still available on GunBroker at press time.

Unconventional Warfare

MARSOC Story Update MIA

We ran a story on Military Times’s (Gannett’s) half-hearted rowback of a false story impugning the character of the officers and men of MARSOC in 2009. They were to have published Part III on 18 Mar 15, but it was very late to hit the site (circa the wee hours of this morning?). Part III is now available, it tells the story of the actual fight the Marines had along Route 1, plus hints at some of the problems MARSOC had with fitting in to the CJSOTF mission, which are perceived very differently by the Marines and the Army officers their unit reported to. You would think the Marines were past the days of being run on a shoestring, but the tale of F Company’s training, preparation and logistical support show the service is still a bust-out.

(Update: we just saw that we never ran our story, which was also supposed to go up on the 18th. So that’s why there aren’t any comments on it! It will go live at 1800 today. ¡Muchas apologiesus! -Ed.)

Prince Harry Hangs Up his Helmet

Two-tour Afghan vet Captain Harry Wales — Prince Harry to the royals-obsessed tabloids and social climbers everywhere — is leaving the British Army after an exchange tour with the Australian forces. No, he’s not joining the egalitarian, classless Aussies: he’s going to spend more time on family and on Prince Stuff, whatever that is. It’s the Army’s loss, apparently; he’s a decent Apache gunner, pilot and commander. We expect the cousins will muddle through this. They usually do..

It isn’t just American troops any more: JAGs claim some Polish scalps

Coat_of_arms_of_Poland-officialA half-dozen Polish NCOs and a junior officer, previously acquitted, are convicted and sentenced. (The Polish military justice system does not provide double-jeopardy protection.

The five-judge panel on Thursday found the four, ranking from lieutenant junior grade to sergeant, guilty of being lax about their orders when they aimed mortar and machine-gun fire on the village of Nangar Khel, while serving on a NATO-led mission in Afghanistan. They were given suspended prison terms of between two years and six months.

Welcome to NATO, guys. That’s just the way we roll.




“Access to the fleshpots had made him the slave of his mistress.”

Bet that post headline grabbed you, didn’t it? Not the typical WeaponsMan fare there.

“Law of Self Defense” here, actual name Andrew Branca.  I’m an attorney who specializes in self-defense law, and I’ve been kindly offered an opportunity to provide some content for your Monday morning reading pleasure.

I know what you’re thinking–legal stuff? Boring!  And mostly you’d be right, most legal stuff is dryer than Hillary’s Clinton’s, uh, psoriasis.  At least in the self-defense area I enjoy the benefit that almost ever case involves at least one person eagerly engaged in doing stupid stuff, with stupid people, in stupid places–believe it or not, every state has plenty of its own version of Florida Man.

Just this past week, however, I came across a purported self-defense case from the 1940s that, no kidding, would have made an outstanding screenplay for an early 20th century film noir in the mold of The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, and hundreds of other films of the era.  This case had everything–a beautiful but duplicitous femme fatale with murder in her heart, a wealthy older man as the target of her not-so-tender affections, and the foolish young man seduced by her, uh, feminine wiles to act as the tool of her deadly ambitions.

Continue reading

White Dopes on Dope? Nope.

devingesellIf you study enough crimes, you will soon stumble upon the essential chicken-or-egg primacy problem of criminology: are criminals stupid because they’re drug users, or are they drug users because they’re stupid? If the dopes-on-dope amplifier effect is allowed to run in unconstrained feedback for a few generations, what happens?


Meet Devin Gesell, whose coming stint in prison is more likely to leave some village short one idiot, than it is to leave a named chair in Orbital Mechanics vacant.

Devin, and the two juvies who were his deputy dopes, were high on the hope that they’d groped someone’s dope. But, as we’ll see, what they had wasn’t dope at all, and they were dopes indeed ever to think it was.

Details of the November 22 burglary of the residence in St. Peters are contained in a probable cause statement that was drafted in connection with the filing last week of multiple felony charges against Devin Gesell, 17. Gesell’s two accomplices, ages 15 and 16, are being tried as juveniles.

According to investigators, Gesell (pictured above) confessed to the burglary, saying he served as lookout while the other minors broke into the residence and took $825 in cash and items the homeowner valued at more than $2000.

If you Read The Whole Thing™ at The Smoking Gun you will get a link to the probable cause statement. But the thieves took, along with cash, prescription drugs, portable electronics and a stash of grey powder in several boxes. Devin and his merry men identified the stuff as cocaine.

True, cocaine is white, and this stuff was grey. Maybe they thought it was old cocaine. And true, cocaine is a very fine powder, and this was rough and granular. Maybe they thought it was just FFG and not the FFFFG they were used to. But then when they tried it, it tasted pretty bad and didn’t get them high, so the disappointed doper dopes dumped it out the window of their getaway car.


Now, who would like to be the cop who had to tell the burglary victim, “First, the good news — we got your iPad back. Now, for the bad news: about the cremains of your father and the two dogs…”?