Hartford, CT officer John Cavanna made himself a hero of the gun world last weekend, as he rescued a piece of history from a gun buyback program shredder, by refusing to accept an StG 44 brought in by the daughter of a World War II artilleryman.
The StG 44 is an early assault rifle, the first to see major military adoption, and the reason why every current military in the world issues assault rifles to this day. It changed the way war was fought, and changed the world of small arms. It represents a turning point in history, and continues to make it, in small ways like this.
“Usually, this rifle would be issued to SS troops,” said Cavanna. “In excellent condition, this gun is rated at $30,000 to $40,000.”
The StG 44 was a war trophy belonging to the woman’s father. “You could kill a solider back then, and if the captain of your fighting unit signed off on it, you could send that gun home to your family or kid brother or cousin. Anything you wanted. Her father, who was a World War II army man, had brought this gun home from the European theater,” Cavanna said.
Cavanna is not just a peace officer but also a gun historian, and we thank him from rescuing this artifact and elevating himself above the buyback fray. The owner will be allowed to keep the rifle and sell it to a museum.
“The chance to see a piece of history—this…is absolutely unbelievable,” said Officer Lewis Crabtree of the Hartford Police Dept. “This is a gun that should actually be in a museum rather than in a shredder.”
Gun buybacks are already hugely controversial. At best they disarm the poor, at worst they are used to destroy evidence and artifacts like these. For every gun buyback that’s exploited as a children’s fundraiser, there are dozens that raise all sorts of red flags like this recent buyback in Massachusetts that exchanged guns for flu shots.
But it’s nice to see that there are sometimes silver linings to these largely ineffective and counter-productive programs.
And we hope that other officers follow his lead. We’ve all heard stories of amazing, often singular firearms going to the big armory in the sky because they were found by people who didn’t know better and they turned them into gun buyback programs. The world needs more John Cavannas. Keep up the good work, and as gun lovers, we’re all in your debt.