Tommy Gun Trade Troubles Town

By Dean Weingarten

1928 Thompson submachine guns with drum magazines
1928 Thompson submachine guns with drum magazines
Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(   When politicians attempt to ban things with regulations and taxes, weird results follow naturally.

In this example, the stage was set with the bizarre National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, which was upheld by the infamous U.S. v. Miller decision.  In the NFA of 1934, a $200 tax had to be paid, and full auto firearms had to be registered with the Federal government, if they had crossed state lines.

The “tax” was the equivalent of $4,000 today, on items that varied in value from 1/10th the amount of the tax to roughly equivalent for the Thompson.   The crafters of the act admitted that the idea of a “tax” was a way to subvert the second amendment through taxation rather than an outright ban.  Subsequent Supreme Court decisions gutted the meaning of the interstate commerce clause in the U.S. Constitution, rendering the requirement for interstate travel of the firearms moot.  Some states are attempting to restore that limit on federal power today.

The second part of the charade occurred in 1986, when a controversial vote on the 1986 firearms owners protection act was used to place a ban on the manufacture or import of full auto firearms for civilian use, effectively freezing the number of full auto firearms legally available to those registered with the BATF at the time the law went into effect.  Because of increasing demand, the price of legal full auto firearms sky-rocketed.   Thompson submachine guns, highly desired by collectors, rose more than most.   Today, legal Thompsons run from $30,000 to $50,000.

The Sheriff's Department in Forsyth County, North Carolina, owns a couple of legal vintage 1928 Thompsons.  They have engineered a trade of the Thompsons.   Most people would think that trading a couple of antique firearms for 88 brand new rifles would be a good deal.   From

FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. – Forsyth County Sheriff Bill Schatzman defended his department’s request to trade two vintage Thompson submachine guns for 88 new Bushmaster rifles as county commissioners reignited their debate on Thursday.

Apprarently, some people in the county think it might be a good idea to hang onto the Thompsons, which have some historical value.   One commissioner considered a compromise:

 Commissioner Mark Baker asked if the board decided to keep one gun for historical purposes and trade the other, could the county get 44 rifles. Schatzman didn’t know.

Sheriff Schatzman mentioned that putting the guns on display involved serious costs of its own:

“What would you do with a diamond ring if it was worth $30 to $50,000? How would you display it? Would you put armed guards around it or just put it in an alarmed case?” Schatzman asked.

He was confused by the Tommy gun concerns.

“They’ve been in a dark room collecting dust and rust for the last 50 years,” Schatzman said. “Why are they so important today? I ask that question in all honesty. I don’t know the answer.”

Readers now know the answer to that question, at least in part.  They are so important today because those who want to undercut the second amendment have managed to put laws in place that create artificial shortages and weird economic incentives.  Like many of the gun laws in the United States, they do not make any sense.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973.  He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • One thought on “Tommy Gun Trade Troubles Town

    1. This is precisely why we need a moratorium on passing or instituting in any way ALL new gun law proposals , to determine which ones have aided society and which ones have injured the intent of the United States constitution . Of course that will NEVER happen until we get an intelligent person in the White House as well as clear the House and senate of all constitutional ignorance and just apply common sense to all our problems that stem from almost two hundred years of ignorance and treason in our government .

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