>>It was a real handgun that was loaded with blanks that killed Lee. Starter pistols, like those used to start track races are usually specially made to not have an opening in the barrel to prevent any projectile from being accidentally launched by the blank charge, and they are usually revolvers and not pistols.<<
I stand corrected.
But any device that uses gunpowder is potentially dangerous, since it uses shock force to produce its sound (would you put your ear to the side of a real starters’ pistol?).
My older brother had one of those starter’s pistols when I was about 12. In fact, my buddy and I went to the sporting goods store and bought it for him with money he gave us! Lazy sucker. They sold it and the ‘ammo’ to us, no problem. Things were a touch looser back in the 50s.
Anyway, he let us play with it whenever we wanted as long as we bought him more ‘acorns.’
We noticed an angled port in the top of the gun where the flash came out, so we went in the attic and took some small screws with us. I stuck one in the port, pointed it down so the port was aimed at a bulb about 25 feet away. I fired. No lie, on the first shot the screw hit the bulb and blew it away. Biggest surprise on my young life.
I don’t know if it would cause much damage to a person (other than their eye), but that light bulb were daid!