Loaded Gun Found By Fifth-Graders On An Archaeological Dig

Archaeological dig field trip goes awry when 5th graders find gun, in Belchertown, MA.

When these fifth-graders went on an archaeological digging field trip, they never expected to unearth a loaded gun in this bucolic, Massachusetts town. Photo by Norman Walsh via Wikipedia  and GNU Free Documentation License.

When a group of Massachusetts fifth-graders got together for an archaeological dig put on by a local school, they never expected to find a loaded gun.

In fact, it was a gun that drew them to that spot in the first place. Wendy Robinson, a teacher at Chestnut Hill Community School, decided to hold this years archaeological dig at that location because the owner of the property had previously found part of a flintlock musket dating back to the days of the colonies. Finding a similar piece might have been amazing and very interesting, but not terribly surprising. Finding the gun they found, however, was a shock.

Archaeological digging field trip unearths a loaded gun.

The gun found by three 11-year-old boys at the archaeological dig was much more modern than Colonial-era America. In fact the gun, a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber handgun, is thought to be only a decade or two old. It was buried in a shallow hole, as if “somebody hid it in haste,” said Sgt. William Panto. The find immediately conjured memories and suspicions of the 1986 Belchertown State School shooting, but it was quickly determined to be the wrong caliber.

While the gun was loaded, police felt that it posed little to no danger given its blocked barrel and deteriorated state; however, Panto conceded that the “powders and primers are unstable at that point.” Sgt. Panto further noted that the location was “an odd place to bury a gun.”

Where did the loaded gun come from? Police investigate.

If the gun had been buried for safekeeping, and the owner had the intention of coming back for it someday, it would stand to reason that the owner would take measures to protect the gun from the corrosive effects of being in the ground. But the gun had no visible protection around it. The gun found during the archaeological dig was quite close to the surface of the ground. The local police are justifiably concerned about the gun’s history. Since the serial number is rusted, the gun will be sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for identification. Criminal charges could be brought upon the gun’s owner if they are able to determine who that might be.