The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 3, 2012

Bonnie, Clyde guns await auction gavel

JOPLIN, Mo. — Want to own a tommy gun once toted by Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow?

Prospective bidders will get that chance during a gun auction later this month in Kansas City.

Also on the block is a 12-gauge 1897 model Winchester shotgun that was used by the outlaws.

The weapons are believed to be among those seized after a raid April 13, 1933, at the outlaws’ apartment hide-out near 34th Street and Oak Ridge Drive in Joplin. Until recently, the guns were displayed in the Springfield Police Museum.

The guns have been in the family of Mark Lairmore and his sisters, of Springfield, since the Great Depression. A police officer at the time of the raid in Joplin gave the weapons to their great-grandfather, who was a Tulsa, Okla., police detective at the time. His name also was Mark Lairmore.

“They were the major draw of the museum, and I don’t think they were all that anxious to give them up,” Lairmore said in a statement released by the auction house, Mayo Auction and Realty.

“But my father and grandfather have also passed away, so the sentimental reasons to hold them are no longer there,” Lairmore said. “I feel it’s time for someone with an appreciation of antique guns and the history behind these guns to own them and care for them.”

Lairmore said a newspaper account about the time of the raid documented how a police officer by the name of Thomas Persell had been kidnapped and held by the outlaws in their car.

Said Lairmore: “They bragged to the officer about having stolen the tommy gun in Ohio. The serial number on my gun is the same as the one that was listed as stolen in Ohio.”

Lairmore said the guns were “a gift from one policeman to another. There was no reason to invent a fairy tale to go along with it. What’s unfortunate is, we don’t know who that policeman was. If we did, we might have an airtight case. But we don’t.”

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