In the most controversial Dragnet episode to date, Sgt. Friday (Jack Webb) must put off his Christmas vacation to investigate the disappearance of a boy named Stevie Martin. The missing youngster's best friend Stanley Johnstone (Sammy Ogg) tearfully comes forward, confessing that he has killed his playmate. Tragically, it turns out that Stanley is telling the truth--and the cause of it all is a .22. rifle which Stanley's father had bought him for a Christmas present. It is impossible not to be moved by the final scene in which Stevie's dad (Bill Johnstone) comes to grips with his son's death. Although the original radio version of ".22. Rifle for Christmas" (first heard on December 22, 1949) incurred the wrath of the National Rifle Association, Jack Webb received so much positive response for the episode that he insisted upon filming a TV adaptation for telecast just before Christmas Week of 1952--whereupon he was again subject to criticism, this time for depicting a dead child on screen!
by Hal Erickson synopsis