The meeting was billed as “A Salute to Bill Jordan and the United States of America—A Bicentennial Spectacular Celebrating Over 200 Years of Lawfully Armed Citizenry Helping to Preserve Freedom.” Bill Jordan was being saluted because he is a recently retired top field representative of the National Rifle Association, a Marine veteran of the Second World War and Korea, a veteran of thirty years’ service with the United States Border Patrol in Texas, a holder of the trophy for Outstanding American Handgunner, a developer of Smith & Wesson’s Model 19 Combat Magnum revolver and the owner of Serial No. 1, the designer of the quick-draw Jordan holster and Jordan grip now used by many police officers, and author of the widely read book on handgun shooting titled “No Second Place Winner.” Mr. Jordan is also something of a trick shot, and this was to be his last public demonstration of his hip-shooting and quick-draw techniques.
Bill Jordan shooting his S&W M19
In the lobby of the theatre, before the show, we saw some eight hundred Federation members; a display of nine target rifles; flags saying “Don’t Tread on Me;” a display of historic arms contributed by the New York State Police, including an original 1886 Winchester .36-30 repeating rifle, two .38 pistols, a service Colt .45, and a Thompson submachine gun, all guarded by two smooth-faced, blue-eyed state policemen in gray uniforms; four shiny-helmeted members of the New York National Guard, three with M-16 rifles, arriving in an armored jeep pulling a howitzer; five men dressed as British Army regulars of the eighteenth century, with .757-calibre antique Brown Bess muskets; and one man dressed as a Colonial soldier, who would have looked plausible in his tricorne hat and assorted animal furs if he had not also been wearing lavender-tinted aviator glasses. When Mr. Jordan arrived, the people in the lobby parted before him. He was wearing blue pants and a blue shirt-jacket with white stitching. He was tall and slope-shouldered, and his face looked like a less exaggerated version of Buddy Ebsen’s. He moved slowly, and he smiled and blinked a lot, and he shied away when one of the public-relations men leaned up to kiss him on the cheek.
Inside the theatre, we sat behind a man wearing a red blazer and an ankle holster. William G. Kalaidjian, a New York City police chaplain, opened the meeting with a prayer. Then a color guard brought Bill Jordan to the stage, and everybody recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Then Jerry Preiser, a clothing manufacturer and president of the Federation, gave a one-hundred-dollar Courageous Citizen Award to a camera-store owner who last February shot and killed an armed robber in his store. People applauded and cheered loudly, and the camera-store owner smiled and waved back as he accepted the check. Then Dr. Richard Drooz, a Manhattan psychiatrist, who is vice-president of the Federation, made a speech introducing Bill Jordan, which ended, “He has an articulate and beautiful way of relating to people. He has a beautiful sense of humor. And tonight he brings together under one roof the best of the military, the best of law enforcement, the best of humanity.”
FBI’s Jelly Bryce and
Bill Jordan of the Border Patrol
“Gunman’s Crouch” and “Standing Tall”
Bill Jordan used paraffin bullets for his demonstration. He has a very fast draw, and he shot a number of balloons from the hands of his old Marine buddy Ray Heatherton, TV’s Merry Mailman. Firing from the hip, he hit a white Life Saver and then an aspirin on a table ten feet away. He told the audience one of his favorite sayings from the Border Patrol: “Speed is fine, but accuracy is final.” Then he made a speech about ways in which the National Rifle Association could increase its membership. He encouraged people to tell their hunting companions to join, and he said that he thought Citizens Band radio might also be effective in enlisting new members.
After Representative Mario Biaggi made a speech, the meeting broke up. As we were leaving, we heard a Federation member say to the man who had been sitting in front of us, “Hey, there, Paul. Don’t go running off with my handcuffs. Or my bullets.” They both laughed.
—The New Yorker, Volume 52, 19 April 1976