Indiana Librarian Finds Black Powder Pistol Inside Donated Book

Directly from the “Why Can’t This Ever Happen To Me?” files…

Phyllis Nelson, Assistant Library Director for the Valparaiso, Indiana, branch of the Porter County Public Library, contacted Valparaiso PD when a library employee opened a donated book and found an extra prize inside: A .31 caliber Arma San Marco (sic) black powder pistol.

Police, despite determining that it was not stolen, are still holding the single shot gun as evidence.  Under federal law, black powder guns are excluded from the definition of “firearms” under a provision in 18 USC 921 which classifies them as an “antique firearm” and limits their regulation.  Indiana Code 35-47-1-5 contains no such provision excluding black powder guns, which means that the found A.S.M pistol would be classified as a “firearm.”

Statements by library personnel indicate that thousands of books are donated each month with no donor records kept, so there is no way of knowing when or by whom the book was donated.

The brass-colored, wooden-handled single-shot .31 has been valued around $175 by several sources, although GunLink can not find a current value for the gun.  The gun was found in a 1998 novel titled “Outerbridge Reach” by Robert Stone.  Online images for similar model guns which we found show it in a similarly hollowed out book (albeit with different endpage art), indicating that the book could be a standard container for such a piece.





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