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A 1930s Gun Camera That Could Bring Transparency To Police Work

The Colt 38 was specially manufactured to shoot a film still every time the trigger was pulled.

Image of the revolver gun via the Netherlands' National Archive.

This revolver-camera from 1930s New York may have been ahead of its time in terms of law enforcement transparency. The Colt 38 was specially manufactured to shoot a film still every time the trigger was pulled. Not much else is known about the contraption, and the only photographs left of it are housed in the Netherlands’ National Archive.


Since the ‘30s, a variety of firearm-camera inventions have followed. This February 1938 issue of Modern Mechanix details a “new compact motion picture camera” meant for law enforcement use. “The camera is set in action by a slight pressure on the revolver trigger, independent of the firing of the weapon,” explains the article titled “Camera On Policeman’s Revolver Snaps Evidence.”

Recent forays into gun cameras for law enforcement have reportedly not caught on, but similar taser cameras have been adopted by police and successfully lent evidence to defend both police and civilians in court.

While many are crying for body cameras in light of recent awakening to police brutality in America, and studies have shown that body cameras can indeed decrease police force, it can feel a little unsettling and big brother-y to picture armies of video camera strapped police patrolling the country. Perhaps the gun camera for law enforcement is a valid, less invasive option to consider, at least when it comes to gun violence.

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