Many American presidents have kept prized possessions within reach during their White House years. Franklin D. Roosevelt cherished a 19th century ship model of the U.S.S. Constitution. One of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s favorite gifts was an engraved Steuben glass bowl from his cabinet. And sitting on John F. Kennedy’s desk in the Oval Office was a paperweight made from a coconut shell he had carved with a distress message after his PT-109 was sunk during World War II.
The objects have been bequeathed to the American public, accessible through a visit to each man’s presidential library and museum. And so when the library for George W. Bush opens in 2013 on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, visitors will most likely get to see one of his most treasured items: Saddam Hussein’s pistol.
(Former President George W. Bush has long prized the gun seized when Saddam Hussein was captured hiding in a hole in the ground in Iraq in 2003. Photo: New York Times)
The gun, a 9 millimeter Glock 18C, was found in the spider hole where the Iraqi leader was captured in December 2003 by Delta Force soldiers, four of whom later presented the pistol to Mr. Bush. Among the thousands of gifts Mr. Bush received as president, the gun became a favorite, a reminder of the pinnacle moment of the Iraq war, according to friends and long-time associates.
Before Mr. Bush left the White House in January, he made arrangements for the gun to be shipped to a national archives warehouse just 18 miles north of his new home in Dallas. His foundation said a final decision had not been made on including the gun in the presidential library. But his associates and visitors to the White House said Mr. Bush had told them of his intention to display it there.
For nearly five years, Mr. Bush kept the mounted, glass-encased pistol in the Oval Office or a study, showing it with pride, especially to military officials, they said. He also let visitors in on a secret: when the pistol was recovered, it was unloaded. ...
Read the rest here. For those unfamiliar with the Glock 18, it's a select fire weapon, capable of semi-automatic or fully automatic fire. The selector lever can be seen at the back of the slide in the photo above (click on photo to enlarge).