The Gilmore Gun – The Firearm that Brought Back the Death Penalty

The Gilmore Gun
The Gilmore Gun – Browning Challenger Two.22 LR semi-automatic pisto
The Gilmore Gun- Echo of Murder
The Gilmore Gun- Echo of Murder

USA –-( With any collectible items we all have our favorites be it cars, coins, art, guns or whatever it may be.

And as with any of these objects we all have our favorite maker, model, year of production, artist, etc.

Whether it's because grandpa, grandma, dad, mom or some other person's influence in our life may have had this similar interest and perhaps sparked the beginning of ours. Our interests may be sentimental, historical, etc. but we generally consider the value as one of most important factors.

This article is about one rare and unique firearm which has been tagged the Gilmore Gun.

The Gilmore Gun is a Browning Challenger Two.22 LR semi-automatic pistol.

It takes time for a historical event to become well known throughout the country or the world. Many times the person involved with the event is deceased, which increases the collectible’s value even further because we know there will be no other such items. Collectibles involving famous people and events increase in value over time—more than items without this verifiable type of recognition. When a collectible has intriguing historical recognition and connection, along with absolute documentation, then the collectible is “the best of the best.” There are a limited number of items that are historically significant and, at the same time, are positively documented.

These types of collectibles are rare, desirable, and valuable. The Gilmore Gun has all of these attributes.

Photo #6 Gary Gilmore

In the spring of 1976 Gary Mark Gilmore was released from an Illinois prison on a parole agreement to the care of his relatives in Provo, Utah. He was thirty five years old and had already spent the majority of his life incarcerated. A few months later in July 1976 he robbed and murdered two young men on consecutive days. He was quickly apprehended denying his guilt but shortly after confessed to his crimes, later stating if he had not been caught he would have killed again.

Two weeks prior to Gilmore's terrible crimes the Supreme Court had reinstated capital punishment after ten years of no executions in all of America. This tragedy has an inimitable place in American history for multiple reasons. Gilmore refused all appeals for the murders he committed insisting on the death penalty which he received by firing squad, his choice over hanging, within six months of his trial making him the test case to bring back the death penalty the only time it had been halted nation wide in American history.

He used the same pistol for both murders and after the case and execution the court returned the the murder weapon to the store owner Gilmore had burglarized.

Which in most rational peoples opinion seems fair and logical, but has seldom happened throughout our history.

The store owner hid the pistol away for 25 years before asking a local gun dealer and long time friend to sell the gun for him. After some research the pistol was placed on a popular internet gun auction receiving a bid for $500,000.00 but did not meet the reserve or asking price. A few months later the gun was first shown at a Las Vegas gun show.

The Gilmore gun at a Las Vegas gun show.
The Gilmore gun at a Las Vegas gun show.

The gun dealer, Dennis Stilson later purchased the pistol from the original owner. In 2008 the pistol was again listed on an internet auction reaching $780,000.00 but was still insufficient to reach the asking price.

Stilson had numerous personal and professional ties with Gilmore's family and others involved with the Gilmore's case. He wrote a book titled “The Gilmore Gun – Echo of murder.”

Articles depicting the Gilmore account covered the world in such magazines as Time, New times, Criminal Mind, Playboy, Rolling Stone, People and many more.

There were also the books and movies solidifying both the unique and bizarre aspects of this memorable case. The most prominent book is by Norman Mailer titled “The Executioners Song” and won the Pulitzer prize.

A TV movie by the same title starring Tommy Lee Jones won him an Emmy and a nomination for his co-star Rosanna Arquette. One of the cover photos used for the movie shows Tommy Lee Jones holding and pointing the Gilmore Gun.

The case that reinstated capital punishment in America should be remembered. It is a shame that this historically rare and important story is not part of our general educational history books and makes a statement of our lack of the pursuit of truth.

The fact remains no other gun has been involved in any case that legally affected so many at such a legitimate level affecting laws that we still live by today. Committing the most horrendous crime resulting in the most severe punishment.

Other guns have certainly been used to murder more prominent historical or recognized victims but that is a bit of a different niche, this pistol reflects more of the legal or law affecting and social-political ramifications making it a very rare firearm indeed.

There is only one Gilmore Gun.

For more details about this story see the website at

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