Gilmore's gun goes on sale for $1m

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The Independent US

Scholars and supporters of capital punishment in the United States are being given the chance to purchase at auction what may be the rarest of all death-penalty souvenirs - the handgun purportedly used by Gary Gilmore to murder a motel clerk in Utah almost 30 years ago.

The first man to be sentenced to death after the US Supreme Court reinstituted the death penalty in 1977, Gilmore was killed by firing squad. A morbid mythology has since clung to him, spurred partly by Norman Mailer's, The Executioner's Song, which became a film starring Tommy Lee Jones.

After Gilmore was dead, the police returned the pistol to the gun shop he stole it from in Spanish Fork, Utah. In 2002, it was bought by a local bail bondsman, Dennis Stilson.

Mr Stilson has now placed the gun for sale in an internet auction on the site, best known for featuring art work by prisoners on death row. Still attached to the gun is the original law enforcement evidence tag, Mr Stilson says. He also has the official FBI file on it.

The starting bid on the gun last night was listed as $1m (£545,000). Mr Stilson has said that he hoped to use the proceeds to build a youth centre. Whether that will happen is uncertain, however. Under Utah law, any money paid for it should go to the state's Crime Victims Reparations Fund.