Thursday, February 13, 2014

NC: Tommy Gun Trade Approved

On February 10th, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved the Sheriff's Department trade of two highly collectible and desirable 1928 Thompson submachine guns for 88 AR-15 type Bushmaster rifles.  The vote was 6-1.  The trade had engendered some lengthy debates at board meetings over the last month.

Because of restrictive gun bans passed in 1934, 1968, and 1986, only a limited number of these type of guns are available for sale to collectors.   The peculiar market conditions created by federal law have driven up the price from about $1,000 to the range of $30,000 - $50,000.

Some questioned the trade, preferring that the guns be auctioned off to obtain the highest price.   However, it was determined that the legal category that the guns are in does not allow for a practical auction.   The guns were registered in 1968, but not in the type of federal category that would allow them to be sold to ordinary citizens, because of a controversial change in the law in 1986.  Federal law, as interpreted by BATF regulations, does not allow guns in one category to be transferred to a less restrictive category.  From
Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt said afterward that she had been in favor of opening up the Tommy guns for public bid but decided to vote in favor of the trade after hearing from County Attorney Davida Martin that it appears the county couldn’t do so.
The guns are legal, but only Class III dealers and law enforcement agencies are allowed to purchase the guns that were registered in this particular category,  restricting demand and reducing the guns value.    Identical guns registered in a different category, that can be purchased by any citizen who is not a felon and is willing to pay the $200 tax, are worth as much as $20,000 more.

Such irrational distinctions in the law are a classic example of regulatory and legal overreach.  Contrary to media images, full auto firearms, such as the Thompson, were never used in crime to any significant amount.  Of those that were, nearly all used by criminals before 1934 were stolen, often from government armories.    From 1934 until present, only one case is documented where a legal full auto firearm was used in a violent crime, and that one was committed by a policeman.    One other case may have occurred in 1992, but is not well documented.  It is worth noting that both of these cases occurred after the 1986 ban.  Before the ban, no violent crimes were committed with legally owned full auto firearms since 1934!

What the 1986 law taught firearms owners was that the facts of gun ownership and criminal use do not matter to those who want a disarmed population.  That is why federal and state gun laws often seem to make no sense.   If a disarmed population is your goal, any restriction, no matter how irrational it may be, is a step forward.

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

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