July 2009

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It was forged out of steel and given a walnut handle 60 years ago. It made its way to New York City, where it was sold by a well-known gun shop in Little Italy, and eventually passed through the hands of a law enforcement officer, who reported it lost in 1976.

More than three decades would go by before the weapon, a .32-caliber revolver, resurfaced on Sunday on a Queens street, where it fell from the waistband of a man under arrest and discharged a bullet that hit Police Officer Rodney Lewis.

As they do with most weapons confiscated in New York City, investigators are now trying to piece together the tale of the postwar six-shot revolver as it takes a central role in the city’s latest shooting of a police officer. So far, it has been a laborious task for the police, leaving as many questions unanswered as raised.

The revolver was traced to the Smith & Wesson plant in Springfield, Mass., according to law enforcement sources. It was manufactured in 1949, and the model, known by gun experts as a long caliber, hand-ejector postwar model, was popular at that time with police forces, until they went to bigger-caliber guns.

But, when a .32-caliber revolver is fired, it keeps the casings inside its rotating chamber instead of spitting them out like a semiautomatic pistol, making it hard forforensic investigators to determine whether it had a criminal past.

“With this revolver it is difficult to do that because the shell casings would not be left behind at a crime scene,” said Inspector William Aubry, the commanding officer of the Police Department’s forensic investigations unit.

On Oct. 18, 1949, the revolver was shipped, most likely in its typical cardboard box, from Massachusetts to the John Jovino Gun Shop in Manhattan, which has been in continuous operation since 1911.

Ghana is a striking place. All the platitudes of Africa ring true there — but what struck us, what has remained with us, was the Emirates flight there and back. On the way there, coach was mostly empty but business and first were full up with chinese men and women. Some of them were wearing those face masks, but they were mostly swilling whiskey.

Upon arrival is was quite clear the Chinese influence going on; from the major infrastructure projects like the dam that is being built, to the financial houses offering home ownership loans, the Chinese have the place covered. 

Our friend on the ground was mostly impartial to the Chinese. They bring their food, which is a blessing for Africa (African food is only medium delicious), they keep their language, they only live with themselves, and they spend dollars. Also, the chinese are distinctly not-white; which deeply matters. 

The flight back was jammed full. in the back of the plane, the football club from Siera Leone was on the way for a friendly match in Syria, Indians were on there way home, but the front of the plane was just the same — all Chinese. 


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