Want to buy a house where someone was murdered? Pennies on the dollar. Fancy owning a firearm used by ruthless criminals in the felony murder of not one but two police officers? Beware platinum Amex melt-down. To wit: “Two guns believed seized from gangsters Bonnie and Clyde in 1933 after a deadly Missouri shootout with police sold for a combined $210,000 at an auction on Saturday in Kansas City to an unnamed online bidder,” reuters.com reports. “The bidder paid $130,000 for a .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun, known as a “Tommy gun” in gangster slang.” Make the jump for the gun’s provenance and a video tour of the deadly shootout . . .

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The guns were seized after a police shootout with Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in Joplin, Missouri, on April 13, 1933. Police raided an apartment where the couple was hiding out. Bonnie and Clyde escaped, but two officers died in the shootout.

A police officer later gave the weapons to Mark Lairmore, a Tulsa police officer, and they remained in the Lairmore family, according to a Mayo account of the guns’ history.

A great-grandson of Lairmore, also named Mark Lairmore, said the family no longer saw a need for the guns, which had been in a police museum in Springfield, Missouri, from 1973 until late last year.

So cops stole the guns (a.k.a., evidence) from the state. The Lairmore family used the Tommy Gun (and an 1897 shotgun also deployed by the bad guys) to suck-in ticket revenue. and then cashed-in for a three-figure payday.

Your blood money—I mean, tax money hard at work. For someone else.

11 Responses to Bonnie and Clyde Tommy Gun Sells for $130K

  1. I don’t get it Rob. You complain about people owning historical Nazi guns or ones used by famous gangsters because they’ve killed people, yet you have no issues with people owning Mosin Nagant’s or M1 Garand’s which were used to kill people….

    • People can own any gun they want. But profiting from the death of a couple of cops at the hands of lawless desperados—with a weapon confiscated by a public servant [sic] that rightly belongs to the taxpayers—ain’t right.

      • Your comment makes it sound as if you think a cops life is more valuable than any other life. I totally understand being upset that these people stole the gun though.

  2. How is that Thompson transferable if it was never registered?

    To my knowledge that isn’t legal and it sure doesn’t sound like it was registered to an individual before the law change.

  3. I have done tons of research on Bonnie & Clyde’s weapons. This is the first time I ever heard of a gun being left behind in Joplin, now there’s two at an auction.

    Clyde and Ralph Fults tried a TSMG, and found it too unreliable. As well, in a large weapon (not to exclude concealability, or capability of one hand operation), Barrow favored .30-06 on steel, and buckshot on flesh. Thompsons used against the gang really failed to impress.
    The 1897 Winny purchased by the same bidder, I would find more plausable as being legit, as a sizeable portion of the crew’s battery was plundered USGI and Clyde did give a 97 Riot model to Ray Hamilton.

    I’d be extremely interested in the provenance and documentation of these guns. In any case, a quarter million is a lot of money, but in any case the guy got two examples of clasic Americana (the legendary chopper they called “Chicago Typewriter”; and a vintage hammered street cannon from the still lawless West at the turn of the century to the nightmarish trenches of France.). A couple good, ol’ school meat grinders.

  4. “I hate to bust a cap on a woman, especially when she’s sitting down.”
    -Frank Hamer, 1934

    I have, over the past several weeks, done a great deal of research, in the absence of my notebook of pre-collected lists, descriptions, sources, and so on, to prepare an article on the weapons of Clyde and a look at his ability as a gunfighter. My notes were THE reference to anything involving guns of the Motor Bandit era, gathered over years and kept for the day I might one day author on the subject, and their loss, now that I need them, if nothing else a catastrophic setback in organized research. Okay, enough bitching about the notes.

    After going through some new material, I think it may be possible that these, Thompson included, may have indeed rode the dusty backroads in a stolen V-8. Public Enemy history buffs are doubtful, but possibility exists in Jeff Guinn’s book Go Down Together, which contains much new information (more on that in a moment). Thompsons are noted to have been purchased and used on a few occasions, and an eyewitness account, for starters.

    The travesty of researching the couple, perhaps more than any subject, the way are the subject of wild claims, conflicting accounts by men who stood together at the same point in time (batteries of firearms used by the Posse, and discovered in the death car, a dozen of each and no two alike) , unsubstantiatied rumors (from owning submachineguns, to bisexuality), and a sense that every biographer adds his own peice to the mythology of the couple…pulled from his ass, and unable to back it up.

    Jeff Guinn’s book contains radically different and new information, but has a bibliography. If there are untruths, Guinn is just passing them on, believing them not to be. All this mostly due to his accounting of Hamer riddling Bonnie’s corpse with a mag dump on her and Clyde with his BAR. Look at her slab pictures. Massad Ayoob for one, challenged this asinine claim. The 5 men who would’ve been in the know, couldn’t get two stories to corroborate among the six, yet a maniacal overkilling of a woman, a petite one, never came up until now. Things like this call into question anything else from this Guinn fellow.

    Guinn states that the recovered arsenal in Joplin (which I verified with the newspaper referenced and other sources) included 4 rifles (unk. details, will not speculate yet on these weapons, but one had to be his Krag), 1 Shotgun (elsewhere noted to be a 16 ga., so not the auctioned 1897), 1 pistol, and one BAR, which police didn’t know what it was.

    One Thompson was accounted for around the time of their stay in Joplin, beforehand, and have not seen it brought up again. Most books claim they never even used one, or Clyde tried it and didn’t like it. W.D. Jones said they abandoned everything except their guns, fleeing the Joplin kill zone. All in all, based on this new information, IMO, completely feasible that these were cherry picked as souveniers and not listed on the record and in the papers with the others. Would I bet $210,000. on it? That I’m not so sure.
    It certainly wasn’t what the psycho son of an African warlord would call “The Gun Of Clyde,” even if it is. A sawed off BAR would be a safer bet.

    Still, considering a million bucks only gets you either a .45 Luger, or a Browning .22 some asshole murdered people with in Utah, the winner made out. Except for, if a fabled (recently documented for the first time, making several texts incorrect) Tommy Gun with an iconic former owner sells for 130 g’s, does anyone else not think he overbid big time to score the Winchester too? OTOH, as a lover of history, artifacts, Depression era crime, firearms, and letting money go in one hand and out the other, whatever, he got it.

    All I’ve done for the past 3 weeks or so, dig and read, jot it down, back to the index, on and on, Bonnie and Clyde coming out of my right ear, Remington autoloaders and BARs coming out the left. Those damnable notes.
    Article mentioned above, about Clyde and his weapons, skills and tactics, coming at some point in time. It’s become a much bigger deal than I planned, even if I had the notes, but hopefully the definative prose on the man and his guns.

    BTW- Along with Baby Face Nelson and Alvin Karpis, the book Public Enemies by Brian Borroughs contains info on Bonnie, Clyde and these people’s own voluminous biographies never touched on, every moment accounted for. Borroughs had to go through a lot of FBI files, but the result is one of the best on the subject, that era. Bonnie may have been 2 months pregnant when the pair were broadsided, a startling factoid we didn’t get from Faye Dunaway…

  5. You have to remember these guns are from a era where there was not alot of use of evidence lockers and protocal, this was a time of if people saw you do it that was good enough, you didnt need a CSI lab, I am sure the gifts were given due to ML Lairmore’s reputation as a BA crime fighter in the Tulsa area and Okmulgee OK were hes from, including Pretty Boy Floyed and others also being shot in the line of duty by gangsters.

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