1,000 rounds per minute?! DAMN!
Home for WWII-era gun finally in lawman's sights
By ALEX BRANCH
RIVER OAKS - The woman kept the gun in a chest in a bedroom closet.
She called it her late husband's deer-hunting rifle and said she had no use for it. So she had telephoned Dan Chisholm, then a River Oaks police lieutenant, and asked him to take it away.
Chisholm opened the chest on that day in 1998 and his jaw dropped.
Inside was a MG-15, a World War II-era German machine gun, a weapon that could fire more than 1,000 rounds in a minute.
"I thought 'My Lord!'" Chisholm recalled. "I asked her 'Do you know what this is? You've got a machine gun in this closet.'"
"She said to just give it to someone," he said. "But it wasn't the kind of thing you want falling into the wrong hands."
Chisholm put the relic weapon in the department's property room and began trying to find it a home. Now, about eight years later, he may have finally succeeded.
But it wasn't easy.
After taking the gun, Chisholm called an old friend with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He came out, saw the gun and gave Chisholm a "where in the hell did you get this?" look.
"I told him 'I promise, the sweet little lady had no idea what she had,'" Chisholm said. "She thought he hunted deer with it."
The ATF agent fiddled with it and deemed it fully operational.
Chisholm considered trading the gun to a licensed dealer and found a company willing to give the department eight AR-15s and a few shotguns.
But the gun was illegal. Most likely, the women's husband, who served in the military, snuck it home from the war, he said.
Trying to register it would cost money and be difficult, he said.
"Some dealers would have loved to have it," Chisholm said. "But the ATF told me I basically had two options: I could destroy it or I could give it to a museum."
"I didn't really want to destroy it," he said.
Chisholm called the Texas Ranger's Hall of Fame and Museum but, unless the weapon was used in a crime that occurred in Texas, they weren't interested.
The U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, was interested and offered to send Chisholm paperwork and pay the shipping fees. But Chisholm said he never received anything and never heard from the museum again.
Time passed. The gun's owner's wife died. Chisholm became River Oaks police chief.
The gun gathered dust.
Earlier this year, Chisholm decided to give it one more shot. He called the Texas Military Forces Museum in Austin and described what he had. They were excited and offered to start the paperwork immediately.
Museum docent Jack Savoy said the museum, which opened in 1992, has an MG-13 and an MG-34, so the MG-15 would complement the collection.
"It sounds great," Savoy said. "We rely on donations and this would be nice one."
Chisholm said he doesn't know how long the process will take -- the ATF must approve it -- but was pleased that someone may find a use for the gun.
"It's pretty impressive," he said. "This sounds like the proper place for it. I'm just ready to get it out of here."
IN THE KNOW
About the MG-15
The MG-15 was developed for the German Air Force in 1932. Originally designed for use in Luftwaffe bombers, the gun was later converted into an infantry weapon. The MG-15 was an outgrowth of the older MG-30 and had a rate of fire of 1,000 rounds a minute. The 7.92 mm ammunition was fed from a twin-drum magazine.
SOURCES: REME Museum of Technology and Star-Telegram research