A 9-11 Hero’s Revolver

by
posted on September 9, 2011
keefe2015_fs.jpg

We often get firearm industry visitors here at NRA HQ, and after our meetings are over, John Zent often asks me to take the group on a tour of the National Firearms Museum. The tour begins and ends with two guns that, in my mind, best signify our freedom and our struggle to preserve it.

The first is a German wheellock carbine (think of it as a muzzleloader with a complicated Zippo for a lockplate) brought to North America by John Alden on the Mayflower in 1620. It is the first gun we can say, for sure, was in North America and linked to a specific man taking his first steps in the New World. It resides in its own case at the entrance to the museum. But the second gun resides in the Law Enforcement case leading to the impressive facility’s exit (if you haven’t been to the museum, you need to go).

The gun I invariably end the tour with wasn’t owned by a king or president. This gun is not lavishly engraved, nor does it mark a major milestone in the development of firearm technology. No, it is a battered, burned .38 Spl. Smith & Wesson J-frame with incinerated stocks, likely vaporized, and a frame and sideplate warped and separated by extreme heat. It doesn’t look like much, but like so many guns in the museum, owner and his story make its value incalculable.

This little Smith belonged to NYPD Police Officer Walter Weaver, a proud NRA member and avid hunter who woke on September 11, 2001, put on his uniform and went to work. It was his back-up gun, and a good choice of one I might add as countless police officers and armed citizens-me included-regard it as the best tool for the job.

As an officer in the NYPD’s Emergency Services Unit, 30-year-old Walter Weaver wasn’t even supposed to be in Manhattan that day. But when his truck, ESU No. 3, responded to the despicable attack on the Twin Towers, Weaver was on it. He and his fellow officers, along with FDNY brothers, entered Tower 2 and went to work getting their fellow citizens out, clearing the building floor-by floor and risking their own lives so that others might live. The last report from Walter Weaver was as he and others on the sixth floor of Tower 2 were attempting to free screaming people trapped in an elevator. Then came the collapse. And silence from the Weaver’s radio.

As you can read in Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s story “What Walter Taught Me,” he attended Walter Weaver’s funeral, cried with the Weaver family and mourned the loss of a young life cut short by evil. A member of the NRA family taken, just one of many NRA members, wantonly murdered that day in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

This revolver was the only tangible link to Walter Weaver’s life found in the carnage and debris of the World Trade Center. Once it was identified, the Weaver family contacted Wayne and asked if it could be displayed at the NRA Museum. Obviously, NRA was awed and gratefully to accept it, a final gift from a family that has given so much. And there it resides in a place of pride today, an artifact that once belonged to one of our heroes. It’s a reminder of a young man’s courage, his duty, his life and his sacrifice. I stop in front of that humble revolver every time I pass through the museum and it reminds me that, even as we go about our daily lives, freedom isn’t free. God bless you, Walter.

Latest

Standard Manufacturing Single Action revolver shown on bedstand with lamp base bullets ammo money
Standard Manufacturing Single Action revolver shown on bedstand with lamp base bullets ammo money

Single-Actions For Home Defense

For more than 100 years the single-action revolver held the top spot as the go-to home-defense arm, only to be supplanted by modern semi-automatics, but the single-action, though a vestige of yesteryear, remains a viable tool for defensive use in and around the home.

New For 2024: Wilson Combat EDC X9 2.0

After introducing the double-stack EDC X9 in 2016, Wilson Combat is revisiting the concept with its EDC X9 2.0 model.

Preview: Traveler’s Guide To The Firearm Laws Of The Fifty States 2024 Edition

Lawyer J. Scott Kappas’ Traveler’s Guide To The Firearm Laws Of The Fifty States has notable updates for 2024, including more than 100 changes from the 2023 edition.

Gun Of The Week: Mossberg Int’l. Silver Reserve Eventide Turkey

Join American Rifleman staff on the range this week with the Mossberg Silver Reserve Eventide Turkey, a camo-clad, 28-ga. shotgun designed for the field.

The Armed Citizen® June 21, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Review: Century Arms Canik TTI Combat

Developed in collaboration with firearm trainer Taran Butler, the Canik TTI Combat handgun from Century Arms is packed with performance features.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.