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Interested in buying a weapon once used by famous outlaws? Bidders now have a chance to purchase a pair of historic firearms during an auction scheduled later this month in Kansas City. Historians believe these two weapons likely belonged to the infamous bandits Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has details.
According to the Associated Press, both weapons—a 45 Caliber tommy gun and a 12-guage 1897 Winchester shotgun—are believed to be among those taken by local law enforcement after a raid of the outlaws’ hideout on April 13, 1933 in Joplin. Robert Mayo, owner of Mayo Auction and Realty in Kansas City, is presiding over the upcoming auction. He says the value of the weapons is uncertain.
“The Thompson sub-machine gun has value in itself regardless of the Bonnie and Clyde connection to it because of its scarcity; it’s a vintage, fully-automatic firearm, which there are not a ton of those out there. But as far as what they’re worth, they’re worth what somebody is willing to pay for them. The sellers are going to sell them without reserve, no minimum bid, to the highest bidder, regardless of price.”
According to the AP, the guns are owned by the great-grandchildren of Mark Lairmore, a native of Tulsa. Lairmore was a police detective at the time of the raid. The Lairmore family claims their great-grandfather was given the guns by a police officer involved in the shootout. Mayo believes the story, saying other evidence matches up to the Lairmore account.
“There was a police officer, Thomas Persell, that was kidnapped by Bonnie and Clyde. During that abduction, he talks about this Thompson sub-machine gun, and how Bonnie had that on her lap, and how he had his head rested against it in the backseat, and how they bragged about stealing it. So there is some faith that has to come along with this, but there have been no other Thompson sub-machine guns recovered from them.”
Mayo says Persell’s testimony describing the gun can be found online—that’s the testimony he gave days after the raid. Mayo also says this was the only gun of its kind recovered from the raid.
Until recently, the guns were displayed in the Springfield Police Museum. When questioned, historians at the museum could not comment on the legitimacy of the guns in connection with Bonnie and Clyde.
The auction will be held on Jan. 21; the preview starts at 8:30 am, and the auction starts at 10:00 o’clock. The event will be held with live online bidding open to the public. People can watch and bid from their homes through the website www.auctionbymayo.com.
To see pictures of the two weapons, you can visit KSMU.org.
For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.
Pictures of the weapons: click here