1

What happens if a player should gain an item but that item already is used by another character?

For example, if the Spy comes into play (because your old character is dead/insane), she possesses a .45. If you defeat a maniac, you gain the axe. What happens if those item are already in play in another player's hand?

3

Page 6 of the reference guide says

If the specified card cannot is not found while searching, he does not gain a card. For instance, if other investigators or defeated investigators possess all copies of the card or all copies of the card have been returned to the game box.

so the ruling is that you simply do not gain the card

1

Using the rule that if a rule can be interpreted in several ways, the right one is the least helpful to the players. Therefore the character neither gains no starts with said item.

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