Tommy Gun Nets New Martinsville Police $7,000


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2dogs
April 7, 2003, 07:04 AM
http://www.news-register.net/community/story/046202003_com2tommy.asp

Tommy Gun Nets New Martinsville Police $7,000

By MARY ROHRIG


They say one man's trash is another man's treasure.

For the New Martinsville Police Department, a World War II-era Thompson sub-machine gun that has been collecting dust in the weapons room for more than four decades is a treasure for an Indiana gun collector.
The collectible gun was hand-delivered by the NMPD to a Class III dealer in Indiana last week who will transfer it to collector Mike Hensley in Indianapolis. Hensley paid the department $7,000 for the weapon - and even at that price, he's thrilled to add it to his collection.

"I was excited they found me and that I was able to get the gun," said Hensley. "It's a nice, clean weapon; it's all original, no one has damaged it."

The .45-caliber weapon was given to the New Martinsville police in 1965 or 1966 by then-Chief Pat Barr.

"Chief Barr had retired from the B&O Railroad police," said NMPD Chief Anthony Castranova. "He came here as police chief and brought the gun with him."

Castranova said the gun was in the weapons room when he joined the force in 1971.

"It was just collecting dust, and I thought we might be able to sell it," said Castranova. "People locally valued it at around $750, and I asked Dispatcher (Rick) Estep to check on the Internet to see what it was worth."

Estep located Hensley through his Internet search.

"I collect Thompson sub-machine guns," said Hensley, who is a member of the Thompson Collectors Association. "We have a show and shoot annually in Newark, Ohio that I attend every year."

Hensly views his hobby as an investment.

"It's an expensive hobby, but I think it's like buying property," said Hensley. "They're not making them any more and they can only go up in value."

According to Hensley, about 1.5 million of the sub-machine guns were manufactured and several thousand of them remain in existence.

"In May 1986, Congress banned making any new machine guns," said Hensley. "A lot of the Thompsons that were used in World War II and Korea were dumped overboard into the ocean as the troops returned home. That's how a lot of them were destroyed."

The Thompson Hensley purchased from New Martinsville was made in April or May of 1942.

"It would have gone into the military service then, but I'm not sure if it went into Europe or the Pacific," said Hensley. "Normally, after about six months, they'd return the guns back to a U.S. arsenal to be reworked."

Hensley said his most recent purchase was reworked at the Mt. Ranier, Wash. arsenal.

"Inspectors place marks on them to identify where they were reworked," explained Hensley. "This one has the letters 'MR' stamped into the butt stock. It could have gone back into the military service then, or it could have stayed here."

He said that at the time the New Martinsville police received the gun, it was considered to be the type of high-caliber weapon police would need.

The fully-automatic weapon can fire 650 to 750 rounds a minute, but it only has a 30-round magazine.

Castranova said he and other officers sometimes would target shoot with the gun.

"We fired it with ammo the ATF would give us," said Castranova. "It's way too dangerous to use; there's very little control over it."

The ATF assisted Castranova with the transfer of the gun to Hensley. The transfer had to be done through a Class III dealer who will initiate the required paperwork to clear Hensley as a qualified collector through various background checks. The process will take about 90 days, after which Hensley said it will be stored in his gun safe.

The money from the sale will be used by the NMPD, with permission of council, to purchase equipment.

"The Thompsons are a part of American history," said Hensley. "They've been around since the 1920s and most people can recognize the silhouette of the gun.

"This particular one is a military-style sub-machine gun. It's what you saw Tom Hanks carry in 'Saving Private Ryan.' It's a neat conversation piece that's fun to shoot - and I'm glad the money will help (the NMPD) out."

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Leatherneck
April 7, 2003, 07:36 AM
"We fired it with ammo the ATF would give us," said Castranova. "It's way too dangerous to use; there's very little control over it."
mmhhmmm. Thousands and thousands of GIs and Feds might disagree with you there, Chief. :rolleyes:

TC
TFL Survivor

jjmorgan64
April 7, 2003, 07:42 AM
Just great, Another evil machine gun on the streets, look for crime to skyrocket in Indiana now that is a favorite weapon of gangs and criminals.




















;)

Dannyboy
April 7, 2003, 09:31 AM
Leatherneck, I was thinking the same thing.

At least they didn't destroy this thing.

Tamara
April 7, 2003, 09:40 AM
It's heartwarming when they do the right thing. :)

Chris Rhines
April 7, 2003, 09:57 AM
Leatherneck - no kidding! What a wussie!

Did anyone catch this? "People locally valued it at around $750, and I asked Dispatcher (Rick) Estep to check on the Internet to see what it was worth." Sounds like someone wanted a budget Tommy. So close...

- Chris

Chainsaw
April 7, 2003, 07:33 PM
Nothing like putting your name out there for all the gang-bangers and other low level scum to advertize your collection of sought after type firearms to steal.

Trebor
April 8, 2003, 05:48 AM
It's great to see that gun go to a good home. Many PD's would have just destroyed it once they realized they really didn't need it. The guy got a good price also.

4v50 Gary
April 8, 2003, 12:18 PM
I'd drop $7.5k too if it was legal in Calif. to have one. :mad:

COHIBA
April 8, 2003, 12:24 PM
the city of spartanburg SC has 8 in the arms room.
Major Doug Horton, was offered 4 HK MP5's fully set up for every one thompson in trade by an HK dist out of GA.
he declined.

Marko Kloos
April 8, 2003, 01:27 PM
Nothing like putting your name out there for all the gang-bangers and other low level scum to advertize your collection of sought after type firearms to steal.

Dunno about you, but breaking into the home of a Class III collector seems like an excellent way to get Darwinized to me.

MicroBalrog
April 8, 2003, 02:28 PM
Wait, but how did they bypass the 1986 FOPA to do it?

BADSBSNF81
April 8, 2003, 09:04 PM
Nothing to bypass. Police departments that have automatic wepons aren't exempt from registering them to the ATF. Since this one was made before 86 it is legal to own by anyone who has the money, does the paperwork and goes thru a Class III dealer.

Chainsaw
April 9, 2003, 07:38 PM
lendringser wrote; Dunno about you, but breaking into the home of a Class III collector seems like an excellent way to get Darwinized to me.

I can see your point, but just think of the work it would create cleaning up the mess of those that tried. It would save the law the problem of lengthy and costly trials, butthe amount of paperwork it would create for the Class 111 owner would probably make a logger and papermaker happy though.

As for me I like to keep people away from my knowing of my valuables.

Have you had your name published in the paper as a gunowner?

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