Niagra Falls: Cold War Gimmick Gun resurfaces

Anti-gun officials in New York are taking a victory lap this week after a huge state-run “buy back” event but, as usual, the quality of guns turned in is suspect. 

While we won’t postulate on the effectiveness of such programs, which usually involve offering a mix of taxpayer funds and donated gift cards for unwanted firearms of typically low value, Empire State Attorney General Letitia James made sure her office released a PR sheet of short aggrandizing quotes from gun control flacks and professional career Democrats testifying to how much good last Saturday’s “buy back” event did for the community. 

The event was held simultaneously at nine locations ranging from New York City and Long Island to Syracuse and Niagara Falls, with most photos long on smiles from local officials and short on gun details. After all, the guns were accepted “no questions asked.” The latter is a great way for some folks to dispose of guns used in crime while keeping unsolved crimes in the cold case files and defendants out of jail.

In terms of quantity, the progressive security circus sideshow, which James’ office called “the first-ever statewide gun buyback in New York history,” collected 3,000 assorted guns across the locations.

These included 185 “assault weapons” as classified under New York law, as well as 1,656 handguns and 823 long guns. If the basic math leaves the average reader coming up about 336 “guns” short, keep in mind that photos from the event show tables with a liberal sprinkling of BB guns, black powder muzzleloaders, and paintball guns, which could account for the discrepancy. 

The fee schedule, which left some room for profit for some with near worthless junk guns in the closet: 

  • $500 per “assault rifle” or “ghost gun.”
  • $150 per handgun.
  • $75 per rifle or shotgun.
  • $25 for non-working, replica, antique, homemade, or 3D-printed guns. 

To keep those clever guys with lots of filament on hand from cashing in, the event was limited in the respect that anyone bringing homemade or 3D-printed guns would be paid a total of $25, regardless of how many they brought. 

Now, let’s talk about an interesting jewel seen in the guns recovered from Niagara Falls “buy back” on Saturday. Some 505 guns were reportedly collected in that Western New York town. Of those, a closeup photo of a small table holding just nine high-profile black rifles was shown off in a press release. 

Some downright “scary” hardware there, bought off “the mean streets” of Niagara Falls for $500 a pop by AG James’ office. In some cases, the AG clearly got ripped off. (Photo: AG.NY.Gov)

Besides a few actual ARs in the above image– including one in what looks like a 3D printed lower with a Key-Mod rail of all things – the table holds what could be a Galil SBR, a Wilkerson style carbine, an early first-gen Hi-Point “Planet of the Apes” carbine in an ATI Beretta CX4-style stock, and, to the far right, a Tommy-gun-esque Hy Hunter T-62 Civilian Defense Weapon.

A what? 

Yup, one of the great unsung eye-catching novelty rifles of the 1960s, the T-62 was built by California-based Hy Hunter from a stockpile of Armalite AR-7 .22 LR rifles and parts they bought cheap and recast into something, well, different.

The 3.3-pound T-62, grandiosely labeled a “Civilian Defense Weapon” and equipped with a plywood stock, was marketed through an ad that predated “Red Dawn” and portrayed it in use against enemy paratroopers. 

The ad copy said the little 16-shot .22 was “the perfect weapon for civilian defense, house-to-house fighting, jungle warfare,” in addition to fending off uninvited menacing sky soldiers.

Hy Hunter sold them alongside similarly converted AR-7 “Bolomauser” and “M1 Carbine” versions for $49-$59, with extras like a 4x fixed power scope and a muzzle brake available for a few dollars more. Keep in mind this was just after the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

The T-62’s claim to fame was that it appeared in at least two films, including the 1967 Dean Martin spy comedy “The Ambushers” and the 1968 John Wayne proto-comedy “The Green Berets,” the latter cased in the hands of rather heavyset Anglo extras portraying dutifully dying VC infiltrators. 

The T-62 clocked in for at least two films in the 1960s. As the Hollywood productions were done back to back, they may be the same set of rifles. You can almost hear the Wilhelm scream in the photos to the right. (Photos: IMFDB)

Not many T-62s survive, making the Niagara Falls gun something of a rarity. Sadly, it will probably be destroyed after likely being passed off to many as a “Tommy Gun.”

Pour out some Ballistol for the torched and remember the glory of what was. It belonged in a museum, next to a fallout shelter sign and between photos of JFK and Khrushchev. 

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