DEAR ABBY: I need to know how I can legally get rid of a military .45-caliber handgun that I have had since I was in the U.S. Army back in 1943. It was issued to me prior to my being shipped overseas.
When I was discharged, the parachute and most of the other equipment I had been issued was requisitioned back by the military, but no mention was ever made of the gun, or the 1 1/2 clips of ammunition that I still possess. (In all of this time, I have never fired the gun.)
I want to return the gun to the government, but I don't want to find myself in hot water for having possessed it all this time as a civilian. Since the gun is plainly marked "U.S. Property," I am wondering if my civilian possession of it all these years may have somehow been illegal ever since my discharge. -- WONDERING IN SAN JOSE
DEAR WONDERING: According to Sherry Lawrence of the Personnel Command Public Affairs Office of the Army, the failure of the military to reclaim the weapon at the time of your discharge was probably the result of a paperwork slip-up.
Because the weapon is old and probably has not been maintained, it may be a safety hazard.
Call your local police department and explain that you have a weapon from World War II that needs to be safely disposed of. They will either advise you to bring it in, or offer to pick it up.
I advise you not to handle it -- lock it up until you either deliver it to the local police or they pick it up. Peace of mind is only a telephone call away.