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tv   American Artifacts National Firearms Museum  CSPAN  August 11, 2021 3:19pm-4:12pm EDT

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americans who felt the same way. at that very moment the entire country including myself recognized the fragility of our democracy. i have great appreciation for the traditions and congress and decorum, i don't like to violate it. i don't regret it, because it's what i was feeling, four years of pent-up anxiety of what was transpiring in front of our eyes. >> january 6th, views from the house, sunday night at 10:00 eastern on c-span, c-span.org. or listen on the app. now on american artifacts, a visit to the nra's national firearms museum in fairfax, virginia, to see its collections of guns and learn about the role
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firearms have played in american history. >> welcome to the nra national firearms museum. we're going to go through the museum and take a look at the history of americans and their firearms. we'll start with the earliest precolonial days, go up through current time. we'll look at the role firearms have played in terms of the settlement and expansion of america, the role firearms have played in military and sporting and personal shooting roles. we'll see the guns of champions, the guns of presidents and heroes, and we'll see some great pieces of art, firearms engraving on a steel canvas. the national firearms museum is at nra headquarters in fairfax, virginia. now the museum has existed itself for nearly 30 years. we've been in this location for about 15. we're custodians of about 7,000
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firearms that have been denated to us or lent to us over the past years. we have about 3,000 on display here and about a thousand more at the nra national sporting arms museum in springfield, missouri. what i want people to come away from the museum with, beyond the wow, that's a lot of cool guns which is very important to us, but it's an understanding of that unique relationship between americans and their firearms, and the very integral role that firearms have played in the history of america. we have phil, a senior curator here at the national firearms museum. and we're starting in the gallery. mr. peterson was a magazine publisher and had one of the finest if not the finest firearms collection in the country. and what you see it is the peterson gallery which has been called the finest single room of
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firearms anywhere in the country. >> the museum as jim said picked what we could display and that included about 425 guns. perhaps one of the finest he donated was the grand royal winchester model 21. it was considered the best side by side shotgun ever manufactured. it was made for john n, the finest engraved, inlaid 21 in existence. it commemorates his favorite labrador retriever. >> in contrast to the traditional carved engraving is a relatively new style of engraving. it's only been widely done in the last 30 years or 40 years, and when i say widely done there have been very few people who have mastered it. but instead of a three-dimensional carving of the
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steel this type of engraving is actually done by handpressing literally hundreds of thousands or even millions of tiny individual dots into the steel varying in depth, angle and pressure and creating the incredible scenes that you see on these shotguns. for example, this gargoyle scene on the reverse side of this shotgun. that's all done with handpressed dots in the balino style. annie oakley can be considered to be the first american female superstar. she was an entertainer. she was discovered when frank butler, an exhibition shooter was traveling town to town, and he always as an introduction to his show he challenged the best shooters to a shooting contest. there's one they went to they brought out this 15-year-old girl and she shot side by side
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and actually beat him. he came back a year later, married her and from then on travel. annie became the star. little miss sure shot. here we have a beautiful shotgun. it has an inlaid plaque. to annie oakley -- from the date and the location of this, london 1890, we can guess what the occasion of this presentation might have been, because at that time annie was touring with the wild west show in london and europe, she ran out of gunpowder, buffalo bill lent her some of his gunpowder. it was a different type and it blew up her shotgun. this may have been i'm sorry i blew up your shotgun gift from buffalo bill to annie oakley. >> one of the greatest additions are gatling guns designed back
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in 1861. he kind of saw it as his contribution to mankind not only just to the war effort but to mankind. if he came up with a super weapon that could kill rapidly, then people would want to cease to go to war against anyone armed with a gun. it was a series of barrel aligned that allowed the user to just crank a handle and fire the gun as much as it could rotate. multiple barrels. mr. peters had a collection of ten of them that we have on display, and right now we're pretty certain that ten gatling guns on exhibition is the largest collection anywhere in
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the world on public display. and we'll see very shortly a gatling gun that literally wrote itself into the pages of american history on july 1st, 1888. this particular exhibit is by harrington and richardson. it was made in 1876 for the philadelphia centennial exposition. now, this was considered by many to sort of be america's first entry into the field of a world's fair type of event. countries were invited from all over the world, manufacturers were exhibiting their finest wares, this particular piece not only has these wonderful decorated revolvers in it but it's also the only surviving exhibit still intact from that
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1876 philadelphia centennial exposition. we do have some fascinating oddities, curiosities from the peterson collection and they are in this glass tabletop display case. the centerpiece here is a sundial gun. now that served as a timepiece. you could load a blank-powered charge into the little cannon there and adjust the magnifying glass, it was fired. you also have some of the early attempts at repeating firearms. there was an 18-shot pepperbox revolver from the mid-1800s here, and there's a four-barrel lock can be arranged so the entire cluster can be rotated to have two more shots.
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there is a harmonica-style gun which was an early competitor for the revolver, where instead a rotating cylinder there is a bar with successive charges in it that can be slid from one round to the next as successive shots are needed. a number of firearms including this pistol here with the ivory grips that came out of russian royalty, a nephew of the czar, there's a long knife or short sword here with a pistol mounted on it. that was actually for boar hunting. it was a tradition in europe to hunt the boar with that. a couple of odd-looking guns here. this one with the giant v-spring and this flintlock over here with the circular device on it, are not actually guns but
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they are gunpowder testers. these were made to test the power of black powder that was made in individual batches and you had to be sure that the powder level -- the powder was neither too much nor too little for its intended use. >> the museum as it opened in 1998 features 3,000 different items. we laid the galleries out in chronological order so that the average visitor could come through and see the whole development the revolution of firearms and how it apply to our own heritage. in this case we have actually one of the oldest guns on display in america. one of the oldest guns in the world actually. it's called a hand cannon. it's just a gigantic iron tube with a hole that runs from the muzzle to the breach and then a
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perpendicular. so not only is one of the oldest guns in the world it's probably one of the oldest guns on display in america, and it's one of the world's first guns which in effect were actually canons. it was from the large that we moved down to the shoulder size guns. and jim has a spectacular piece that not only is smaller but displayed the wheelock mechanism. >> just as simple as the hand canon, a successor that followed soon after was complicated. when people ask me what is in the nra museum there's always two guns that i discuss as bookend. this is one of them. this is a wheel lock carving, a very complicated firearm, but it
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came over on the mayflower. with a pilgrim. i say we go from one of the very first firearms on the northeastern american continent and we go through to a revolver that was recovered from the ashes of the world trade center and everything in between. >> as we said earlier we tried to design and build a museum with display cases, galleries of the time period. attempting to tell the story of the early colonial period and the war of independence, 1775 to 1781. we're looking right now at a painting which we actually had to go to london, england, to find. it's called "the shot heard around the world."
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and it's one of the most beautifully rendered illustrating described fired on lexington green on 1775. along with the rifles and muskets that surround the painting it tells the story of the encounter with the british that misty morning april. the question a lot of people have and i said as a kind growing up, why is it one misty morning in april when 70-minute men answered the night paul revere and he looked at his men and said don't fire unless fired upon. but if they mean to have a war let it begin here. and then 300 red-coated british regulars under the charge appeared from the road of cambridge, a shot was fired as the american revolution began. why was it that different from the others.
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the general had given him written orders that morning to go from cambridge, via lexington and remove all stands of muskets, powder, shot and artillery. there were actually guns this morning. that was the line in the sand. that was the point of no return. that's what started the war for independence, and that's what led america on its path that we still are traveling down today of freedom and liberty and how firearms played that role to not only acquiring liberty but maintaining it ever since. when we're talking about purely american firearms and american innovations a lot of different things can be brought to the table for conversation.
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but one of the earliest is what we now call the american long rifle. it's sometimes called a pennsylvania or kentucky, but truly it's an american long rifle because immigrants from europe, from all corners of europe, brought with them riflemaking skills and began to set up shops in literally every colony and eventually every state in the union and manufacture guns. you can look at these long rifles that we have right here and just by looking at the curvature of the stock tell exactly what county and what state these long rifles are from. they are truly works of american folk art and are very valuable just in their own right today. perhaps one of the most historically significant guns in the collection in my opinion is this wonderful little air rifle right here. now, originally, this gun was designed by an italian for the austrian army to use against napoleon. how one ended up in the hands of
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the corp of discovery or as we call it the lewis and clark expedition from 1803 to 1806 is a mystery. but we doe know they had a gun very similar to this one right here. the reason we place so much historical value on this particular firearm is because in the journals of the lewis and clark expeditions lewis writes about this gun not once but 39 separate entries. and each entry is pretty much similar to the one before. he says something along the lines of today we meant the men at the headwaters of the missouri river. i had the men parade before them in their class a uniforms, ordered the uncasing and unfurling of the regimental and national colors. we walked in under fife and drum and i introduced myself and the men, and presented the presence of continues bearing the likeness of president jefferson
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back in washington in two hands collapsed in friendship. and then i demonstrated the air rifle to which they all found to be of wonderment and amazement. and there's the key, every single time he meets a new tribe of indians, he demonstrates the air rifle. you also have to read into this is that never during the trip did he ever allow the indians to actually gain access to the keel or know how much he had in the way of supplies, provisions or armament. so the indians, when they saw this, almost repeating rifle, fired with great accuracy and tremendous effect and power, almost unendingly fire. they were amazed. nobody had ever seen anything like that, and so they were very cordial not knowing whether there was just one of these guns or 39 of them. so it was peace through the perception of superior firepower and it's what led to the
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39 members from st. louis to the cascades and pacific ocean without having been overwhelmed and attacked and wiped out by any of the bands of the native-americans in the western plain. this air rifle was able to present such intimidation they were happy to be hosts and move them onto the next tribe to the west. >> the kentucky rifle was the first truly american rifle, long rifle. it was perfect for the woods of the eastern u.s. but as the american west changed from kentucky, tennessee and ohio, to the great plains and the rocky mountains, a different type of rifle was needed, and that's where we see the introduction of the plains rifle. now, this time st. louis was the gateway to the west, and this is where a lot of the trappers and pilgrims and settlers would buy
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their supplies to make the trip. and this is where the hawken brothers had their rifle shop. they created the plains rifle, which was a shorter barrel, it was a larger caliber than the american long rifle to deal with the american west, the bison, the elk, the big bears. it was to be carried easier on horseback. this gentlemen is rifling the barrel, cutting grooves into it to put a spin on the led bullet to increase its range and accuracy. in the early 1800s, one of the main focuses in firearms' design was to try and develop an effective repeating rifle. and sam colt is the guy who really came up with the first widely adopted repeating firearm, but it was not success at first try. it was a matter of try, try
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again. he created a revolver with a revolving cylinder holding five rounds that could be advanced as fast as you could the hammer and then pull the trigger. he was looking for financial backing for his new invention demonstrating it to his father to try and get the financial backing. but it's said the revolver blew up while he was demonstrating it, which discouraged the financial backing. now it's said colt went back to doing a number of things to earn his living. there's a report he would tour county fairs, demonstrating nitrous oxide to the crowd. but eventually he got back into the manufacturing business in patterson, new jersey, and came up with these which are now called colt patterson revolvers. they look unusual to us. they have a folding trigger and they also were a miserable failure. now, he had gone out of business
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given up on these. but a man who had served as a texas ranger had used these revolvers in texas and felt they were exactly what the military needed for the wars and skirmishes along the texas/mexico border. came back to ask him to make a thousand of these for sale to the government. they needed to be bigger, heavier and more powerful. his name was sam walker and this colt became known as the walker model. as you can see it was a big heavy revolver, pushing almost 5 pounds in weight. it took a very heavy power charge. too powerful for the metallurgy at the time. only 10% survived. a number of those are found with cracked or broken cylinders. he shortened the cylinder, came out with the lagoon model and from that point on, the colt
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firearms manufacturing company was off on a road to success and established itself as an iconic american firearms manufacturer. >> this crazy little contraption was a lave that was developed by thomas lanchard and installed in the springfield army in massachusetts in the early 1800s, and this is one of the first machines that started the american industrial movement and industrial revolution. it works just like you would copy a key at a hardware store today. this is the beginning of interchangeable and mass-produced parts. and we see this in the gun industry. we don't see this in any of the other industries burging in -- burgeoning in america and especially in new england during the early 1800s, but it really manifests itself with this rifle right here, a
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halls beach leader made right here in virginia. but it becomes not only one of the first military adopted breachloading firearms of the united states, but it also is one of the first guns to begin the use of manufacturing processes that see the development of interchangeability in parts and, yes, essentially assembly lines production so that when colt got that letter jim was talking about from sam walker, the texas ranger, asking for 1,000 guns which he didn't have the factory to make them, he turned to one guy in new england that could do something about it. eli whitney jr. whitney had a factory north of new haven, connecticut, and he was able to turn out all 1,000 colt walker pistols for the u.s. government in a six-month period of time because he used every
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single part on this interchangeability, this mass production part, not only for the wood but for the metal as well. that is really where the industrial revolution begins in this country and spreads to the rest of the world. samuel colt takes nine single-action 1850 navy revolvers to the crystal palace in london in 1851 and displays them before prince albert. and the rest of the attending audience was absolutely aghast, shocked really, to see nine guns being torn apart and reaassembled without any care to the gun they previously came from. everything up to this time had been hand fitted and filed. now make dozen per hour and have quite a stock at the end of the day. where in the past these things would take weeks if not months to manufacture a whole cloth. in december 1940, during a
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fireside chat, franklin roosevelt tells the nation that the storm clouds that darkened europe are going to soon darken our shore. >> but all of our present efforts are not enough. we must have more ships, more guns, more planes, more of everything. we must be the great arsenal of democracy. for us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. >> now, america must become the arsenal of democracy, he says. a year before pearl harbor. not only do we make $5 million in one grant, $5 million in one carvings, 4.5 colt revolvers, that's just the firearms,
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we make enough to arm and equip the 16 million men and women we put in the firm and millions of our allies to defeat fascism in europe in 1945 and in the south as well. it was this industrial revolution that gives us the capability to almost a century later maintain the freedom that americans have so hard fought for in the intervening years. now on american artifacts the second part of our visit to the nra's national firearms museum in fairfax, virginia. we join the museum director in the civil war gallery. >> we're entering the civil war galleries of the national firearms museum. on my left represents the union and on my right inconfederacy. the first exhibit case we see numerous examples of the carvings that the union was using. this was a time of rapid advance in firearms design going from the traditional muzzle loaders
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to breach loaders and eventually to repeating rifles. one of the most interesting firearms in this case, is this one of the actual sharps carvings that john brown used in his raid on harper's ferry. one of the events that initiated the civil war. this exhibit illustrates the manufacturing might of the north where they could turn out thousands, hundreds of thousands of well fitted, well-manufactured firearms that were ready to go to work. in the back you see a barrel rifling lathe that was used by smith and wesson from the civil war and cleared up by the time of world war ii. this manufacturing capability was certainly one of the north's strengths in the civil war. >> the south, on the other hand, did not have the industrial might that the north had.
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as we talked earlier the new england and connecticut valley was the home of dozens of gun manufacturers. in fact, the 1861 model springfield, so many were needed by the union army at one time that 33 different manufacturers were turning out the identical same rifle for purchase for the u.s. army. the confederate were left up to their own to procure and manufacture firearms. they had a few places in harpers ferry, virginia, when they actually had possession of it. richmond had a factory. along the james river and a very down in north carolina, georgia and texas. but they could hardly supply the needs of the confederacy. they got most of their guns either from captured during battle from the yankees or imported from overseas. in fact, the finest infantry rifle in the world in 1861 was
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the british m-field. they bought 250,000 of them. but at the end of the day, when the war came to its conclusion in april 1865, general lee wrote saying that after four years of arduous service, unsurpassed by courage and fortitude, the army of northern virginia has been compelled to yield. the war could have gone on for literally years had lee asked his men to take to the mountains and conduct a guerilla campaign. but it came to its conclusion after lee wrote those orders and after the many victory parades and testimonials, a number of union officers got together and tried to evaluate what exactly had happened during those four years. because once the numbers were
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being crunched, which took a long time to actually evaluate, there were over 650,000 casualties in the american civil war. when you lookout right at the end of a battle, a day's battle, there were 75 dead confederates and 150,000 dead union soldiers. that's gunshot artillery on the battlefield dead, 2 to 1, yankees over con fed rates in that regard, and by 1871, a lot of the officers were beginning to realize it was a year-round thing winning that war. the confederates had been outresourced on every single level except for accuracy and marksmanship. they felt if a national emergency ever came about again there was a need to increase the marksmanship skills. of the standing army, not only
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would that pay dividends on the battlefield but it also cuts down on training into marksmanship. so, if we had a nation of riflemen we would stand a better chance to survive the next national emergency. and many years before samuel clemons issued his wonder novel "tom sawyer" where tom encourages his friends to find the fun in whitewashing his fence, the gentleman who formed the national rifle association of america in 1871 felt that we could increase marksmanship by making a competition out of it. so they organized the association to promote markmanship within the branches of the armed services and also within civilian shooting clubs throughout the country. if we make it a competition, we make markmanship a skill, it will be something that a lot of people will want to participate
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in. and by 1876, shooting competitions were the largest spectator sport in the history of the country to that time. that was the birth of the national rifle association, and to this day, remains one of our primary aims and objectives to promote markmanship throughout not only the armed forces, but the civilian populous as well. >> moving into the gallery showing the firearms of the american west. on the far side of this cabinet, we have the guns that are traditionally thought of as the guns that won the west. the winchester lever action rifles and the colt single-action army revolvers along with ther colts. but colts and winchesters were not the only guns of the west. on this side of the chest, we see the other manufacturers who played a significant role. the whitney kennedy, and the marlon rifles and the reming tons, and the single-shot rifle,
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and the rolling block played a major role with the buffalo hunters and also the smith & wesson revolvers. it is recognized from the 1870s to the turn of the century, smith & wesson was turning out more revolvers than colt was at the time. boat were very popular, but also numerous other examples of the guns used in the west. the merwin gilbert and other manufacturers are well represented. our newest exhibit at the national firearms museum is a set of artifacts we're very proud to have on loan from theodore roosevelt's sagamore homeplace. it is currently undergoing a complete renovation, and while they're working on that, they
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lent us the firearms and numerous other artifacts from roosevelt's home from sagamore hill. >> i want to show you a little bit more what we got from the national park service. >> back when the music was being designed in the mid-90s we wanted to take a corner of the museum and focus on the president. we felt as a life member of the nra as well we ought to put a little tribute of him together here. so we decided to replicate the library from sagamore hill almost on a 1 to 1 scale. his daughter ethyl said that the library was the gathering place of the house. it is where theodore had books against the wall and we had traded those in for gun cases. the real gun cases were up on the fourth floor of the study of the house, but it is this room, the library that was literally
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the oval office of the summer white house from 1902 to 1908, and out of the 10,000 artifacts at sagamore hill, we are very fortunate to have about 115 original priceless treasures from theodore roosevelt's home on display here. so this is the working desk of the president from 1902 to 1908. trappings of his african safari of 1909 to 1910 are seen with one of the seven lions that he shot, the rhinoceros horns, and this safari was not to just decorate his home, but it was done under the auspices of the national natural sciences museum. and this gatling gun accompanied
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the troops to cuba in 1848 and one of the most important guns behind it was lost for over 114 years. the very first machine gun ever used in american military history and combat. it is a 14 centimeter mauser, and it was given to the regimen and taken to cuba. in this case, the specific gun was donated by louisa and sybil cain, the elder sisters of woodbury cain, one of the elder rough riders and they happened to be the granddaughters of john jacob astor, and so they had the
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first machine gun ever used in combat by the united states army. in this cabinet, very fortunate to have on display colonel theodore roosevelt brooks brother made tunic and his stetson hat and the 1872 calvary saber. it is interesting to note that when a united states president leaves white house, he is referred to as mr. president for the rest of his life except two exceptions. general eisenhower preferred to be called general eisenhower until his death. and when one of the porters was gathering theodore roosevelt's baggage, he said at the hill, we sure will miss you mr. president. and he stopped him right there and so everybody would hear, he said, no, howard taft is your president, and i am now colonel roosevelt. that is the way he stayed for the rest of his life preferring to be remembered as the colonel
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commanding the united states first regimen the roughriders and so colonel roosevelt to the end. it is a wonderful opportunity for the national firearms museum to be the temporary custodian of these national treasures literally from the nation's attic. a number of the firearms that his six children enjoyed using. eldest son theodore jr. earned the medal of honor at utah beach. second son kermit a major in the british expeditionary forces in world war i and in the united states world war i and ii died in fort richardson, alaska, in 1943 and archie roosevelt was given 100% disabilities from wounds received twice. only soldier in american history to earn 100% disabilities in both world war i and ii and the youngest and the first to pass was young lieutenant quentin
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roosevelt a young fighter pilot shot down by the germans over france in 1918. the firearms that they used both in the service for recreation around sagamore hill as well as on safari in african are still wonderful examples and artifacts that we can look at and reach back and touch the past with. perhaps one of my favorite stories is of this winchester model 1934 and 3030 and if you are looking at the muzzle there is a maximum silencer mounted to the end of that. archie roosevelt, the president's third son, often remarked that father liked to take this gun in particular out hunting across the estate early in the morning dispatching varmits with it who had names like tiffany vanderbilt. so if you can imagine going across the lawn in new york
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dispatching rabbits and the like. quite a difference 100 years have made. >> it is hard to think of a better transitional figure from 19th century to 20th century. we move into galleries covering the 20th century here with the focus on the evolution of the bold action rifle, begin the later part of the 19th century with four prototypes that the mouzer brothers used to begin the bold action rifle. we pay homage here to a number of other firearm designers and certainly the foremost being john moses browning the most famous firearm designer that ever live and going up to the more modern day designer william ruger, the founder of the sturm, ruger company, and the most
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important invention there. he converted that into a semiautomatic rifle. when he went seeking a job at springfield armory, instead of a resume, he brought in this rifle and he was hired on the spot. >> one of the great leaps forward in evolution in design of firearms begins to take place in the 1880s when we move from and transition from black powder to smokeless powder. at this time most of the guns have been muzzle loading. you pour the powder down the muzzle and that is with black powder. it left a thick oily residue called fouling in the barrel and constricted to where it became hard to ram it from the muz toll the breech. with breechloaders, they were
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developed in the 1820s. with smokeless powder it allows you to fire more rapidly because the inner workings of the gun aren't being gummed up with the gumming from black powder. by 1881 an american living in london at the time develops a much gun that actually was one pull of a trigger allows the action to cycle and work, fire, eject and reload and fire that and eject it, as long as you held the trigger. in fact the rates of fire on these guns go from 400 to 1200 rounds a minute. so with the development of smokeless powder and new firing mechanisms, america finds itself involved in the first world war in april of 1917 with new types of firearms that they had never before used. by the second world war, through the efforts of john c. garand, in the springfield armory, our m-1 rifle, the garand rifle, was
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the only semiautomatic infantry rifle that was standard issue to the military of any country in the world war ii. granted other countries had semi-automatics like the g-43. and so our country was making some 5 million of them in the world. general patton called it the bestdevised and paid a great factor in the victory in 1945. we move into the galleries that show the firearms of the competition shooting sports, starting with the shot guns used in trap, skeet, sporting plays. moving to the firearms of the olympic competitions, including a number of guns that have won gold medals for the u.s. in the olympics and the gold medals
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that were won with them. we're into some of the fun aspects of the national firearms museum beginning with the 1950s era kids room. this isn't what my room looked like, but i wanted it to look like. i had the coonskinned cap and the bedspread, but i didn't have tonightlight because my mom thought if she let me have one, it would surely set the house on fire. we have the original coney island shooting gallery and it was established in the early 20th century, and it has gone from steam powered to electric powered. ♪ ♪
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>> this is one of the most popular galleries in the national firearms museum. in here, we have over 120 guns from 80 years of hollywood films beginning with the very first revolver that was used by john wayne in his first credited role and going through modern oscar winners such as the "hurt locker" and "no country for old men." they have classics here like the lever actions used by john wayne in "stage coach" and "true grit" and dirty harry's 44 magnum revolver. >> when you talk about famous movie lines and famous guns and movies, go ahead, make my day, and that 44 magnum is probably the most widely recognized firearm on earth. certainly made extremely popular by a whole series of "dirty harry" films. and some of the firearms like you see in front of it is rubber dummy guns, and these are guns
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you see being thrown down the stairs and thrown into the river, and great sound editing makes it sound like they are actually medal and wood hitting the cobblestones. all of these guns are real firearms manufactured by colt, smith & wessen, and there are a lot of great pieces, and bruce willis and mel gibson used the same gun used in "die hard" and "lethal weapon." tom selleck is a very generous benefactor to the museum, and not only has he lent his guns from the personal collection but also guns from his films like "quigley down under" and other movies. we have three of the guns that made the commemoratives in the close of his "magnum p.i." series.
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this is a gatling gun and this particular one was used in the 1939 cary grant and sam jaffe film. and next to that is the not volley gun that was used by richard widmark in "the alamo" with john wayne back in 1960. and one of the favorite western is "the wild bunch" and a wonderful western starring william holden and ernest borgnine and the cast of characters goes on and on, and this wonderful browning belt-fed machine gun. in fact, they went through a quarter of a million blanks using this gun in the final scene of the great shootout at the headquarters south of the border. if you look at the ammo box here, you can still see some of
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the fake blood splatter from warren oats that splashed up from the final scene. to close things out with the hollywood guns, for somebody that grew up in a house that wasn't firearms friendly as a kid, there were no guns in the house, it was through the movies and televisions that i gained my love and admiration of firearms, what they meant to american history, especially all the military and cowboy films i was so enamored with. this helps to kind of establish a consnek shun with the stars of the silver screen that we grew up admiring and most of us before we ever had an opportunity to have or handle a real firearm of our own. >> in the hunting galleries of the national firearms museum, we have our largest rifle and our largest shotgun. the rifle on exhibit is a
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four bore rifle and that is a rifle that throws a quarter pound of lead with each shot. this particular rifle was used by stanley on the expedition to find dr. livingston in africa. across from it, we have the shotgun exhibit, and on the bottom of this display case is a massive shotgun. now, this is a punt gun. it is not fired from the shoulder. this was braced in a small boat, and it would be loaded with up to a pound of lead shot and used for market hunting. it would be used to harvest up to 100 waterfowl with a single shot. as america became aware of conservation, this type of firearm was banned, but for a number of years in the 1800s this type of gun would provide waterfowl for sale to markets and restaurants. one of the last galleries in the national firearms museum is dedicated the law enforcement. it is here that we have the
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other gun that i believe brackets our firearms stories here at the museum. this is far from one of the most impressive guns to initially look at. it's very beaten up and the finish is burnt off it and the steel is twisted. this is a gun carried into the world trade center by new york police officer walter weaver on september 11th, 2001. officer weaver never came out, but the revolver was recovered from the ashes, and officer weaver had been a strong support over the nra and enthusiastic member. his family wanted us to have it, and we display it here with great pride and a place of honor as a reminder of those who put their life on the line to serve and protect. >> this is the story of americans and their guns, and we want them to leave here with a
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newfound appreciation and understanding of the role that firearms have played throughout our nation's history. it was firearms that led the industrial growth of this country. it was our ability to create firearms in the mass production-type scale that enabled us to manufacture anything at all during world war ii and to help stop fascism in its tracks. firearms played a huge role in the development of the nation, both just teaching men and women and children how the shoot and defend themselves, and to be a nation better prepared on the field of battle as well. americans and their guns is a significant and seminal part of our american history.
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next on history bookshelf, adam winkler talks about his book "gunfight." he examines gun laws in the 17th century. his discussion took place at the texas book festival in austin in

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