toronto police gun

People are dunking on this old-timey gun seized by Toronto Police

An unusual firearm is making the rounds on social media this week courtesy of the Toronto Police Service's own dedicated "here are all the cool guns we've seized" Twitter account — and let me tell you, this one is for (if not from) the history books.

Uploaded Monday morning to the service's rolling visual compendium of illegal guns, a photo of the weapon in question has people all over North America curious about where in the heck it came from.

It appears to be some sort of antique rifle. A mustket, maybe? A petronel?

I'm not a gun person, and Toronto Police couldn't get too specific about the weapon when asked, other than to say that "the old looking firearm is a sawn off shotgun and was found by a citizen who contacted police." 

What we do know for certain is that the gun was seized by cops "in the course of their lawful duties," just like everything else on the Toronto Police Service Guns Seized Twitter account.

"All of the guns posted here were seized by Toronto Police officers in the course of their lawful duties," reads a statement pinned to the top of the profile.

"Some were used in shootings, some were used to commit other crimes, but all were seized from people not lawfully allowed to possess them."

To be fair, the police account does not specify in which years the aforementioned lawful duties were performed, meaning that this gun could very well have been used to hold up a saloon or something in 1881.

Whatever the case, it's a mystery that seems to have captivated Twitter during an otherwise bleak and boring time.

Police tweeted a photo of the rusty musket with the caption "#offthestreets this week" on Monday just before 11 a.m. and within hours, it was the most-liked, most-retweeted and most replied-to tweet in the history of the TPS guns seized account.

As of Monday night at 9 p.m., it had racked up more than a thousand retweets, 841 quote tweets, thousands of likes and more than 900 individual replies.

Legitimately funny replies, at that.

Moving past the expected Antique Road Show and Pawn Stars callouts, people got quite clever when imagining the gun's origin story.

Some people replied to the original police tweet with mock letters from World War I soldiers to their sweethearts as if the piece had been stolen from them.

The wartime references didn't stop there.

"Thank you for keeping us safe from Edwardian brigands," replied one Twitter user to Toronto Police.

"Oh thank god. A highwayman took that off me on my last shift of carriage protection to brussex," wrote another. "I was lucky to have survived."

Many people referenced works of culture when dunking on the tweet.

"Oh thank god, I was so worried that the hunter from Jumanji was after me, this makes me feel better," wrote one.

"They f*ckin got my boy Davy Crockett," tweeted another.

Dracula, Elmer Fudd, Jean Valjean, Billy The Kid, Jesse James and the detective from Murdoch Mysteries were among the (many) other characters referenced.

Fictional pirates were also a popular theme among commenters, with many suggesting that the gun was nabbed from Captain Hook, Captain Jack Sparrow, or Trevor from Trailer Park Boys with his pirate gun.

"Good luck seizing those 19th century merchant ships now, pirates," wrote one person in response to the tweet.

"Damn, you took some kid's Pirates of the Caribbean gun from Disneyworld?" wrote another.

A lot of people seem to think the weapon looks like a prop, as opposed to an actual gun — or rather, as one Twitter user put it, "a movie prop designed by someone who's never seen a gun in real life."

That, or something rendered for a video game: A " level 1 rifle from Fallout" or "the gun you use to shoot buffalo in Oregon Trail," as two people suggested.

Gun enthusiasts have identified the weapon as a "Mossberg 142 bolt action .22 rifle" that has been altered and potentially submerged in a swamp for 50 years, but this has yet to be confirmed.

It warrants repeating right now that this gun photo was tweeted by an official Toronto Police Services Twitter account with a hashtag suggesting it was taken off the street this week.

Even weirder is the fact that this isn't the first old-timey weapon TPS has tweeted out lately.

Nobody quite knows what to make of the phenomenon, but thousands are currently enjoying the prime comedic bursts inspired by Monday morning's tweet.

"Between this and the Mossberg, I'm convinced the leaf cops just robbed some really shitty museum for bad guns to try and make themselves not look incompetent and didn't know enough about anything to realize none of these relics are a threat to anyone," ventured one Twitter user.

"Thank f*ck they got this gun," wrote another. "Who knows how many poor innocents would've gotten tetanus just by looking at it?"

Lead photo by

TPS Guns Seized

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