Rifles photo

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Gun buybacks, the police programs where people turn in guns in exchange for cash or gift cards, usually collect little more than old and rusty junk. I know I own at least one gun I would happily trade for a gift card. But there are times when a real gem or two will show up.

The Hartford, Conn. police officers running a gun buyback on Dec. 1 were flabbergasted when a woman showed up with the grandfather of all assault weapons: a German Sturmgewehr 44, looking to trade it for a $100 Wal-Mart gift card.

Her late father had brought it back from World War II, and it stood in a closet in her home. She had no idea what it was other than a 68-year-old souvenir.* To the credit of the Hartford Police, they knew what the gun was, and that it was valuable. They told her the rifle was worth a lot of money and refused to let her turn it in. The woman plans on selling the rifle. She may get anywhere from $20,000-$30,000.

About 425,000 Sturmgewehr 44s were made and used by the Germans from 1943 to the end of the war. It chambered a shortened rifle cartridge called the 7.92x33mm Kurz and could be fired single-shot or full auto. It proved very effective in combat and was the inspiration for the AK-47 and others. The name “Sturmgewehr” literally means “Storm Rifle” but was translated into English at some point as “Assault Rifle.”

*Best souvenir ever: my dad and a couple of his friends in the American Field Service bought a German staff car for four cartons of cigarettes in North Africa during WWII. They drove it until just before they shipped out for Italy, then sold the tires and left it. I was very young when he first told me about it and I couldn’t believe that he didn’t bring it back home after the war for me to drive when I got old enough.

CC Image from Wikipedia.