The Chicago Typewriter. The Trench Broom. The Tommy Gun. The Chopper. The M1928A1. Whatever you call the Thompson submachine gun, it has a storied past that reminds us all of the Roaring 20’s and the gangsters who used them. Auto-Ordnance and other companies make civilian reproductions these days, but if you ever wanted to get your hand on a vintage, full-auto version, now’s your chance. The St. Louis Metro Police Department has decided to sell 27 of their 29 Thompson submachine guns, along with some old Beretta 92s and patrol carbines.
The St. Louis Metro Police recently requested an increase in their budget, but have found that they might not get the needed additional funding. With the opioid epidemic sweeping across the Midwest and elsewhere, St. Louis is in need of purchasing more Narcan for overdose cases, increasing fire department funding, and all the other budgetary constraints that go into governing a big city in America. The SLMPD, unfortunately, has aging sidearms and the need for many new officers. So, the police department is looking to fund their own armory purchases, with the auction of outdated and retired service weapons.
The SLMPD collected over 100 Thompson submachine guns chambered in .45 ACP from the 20’s through the 40’s, paying just $125 for each of them. Of the 29 Tommies that remain, some included in the sale are very rare models, such as 1921 and 1927 models manufactured by Colt. They also have some of the new military models issued in 1941. The police purchased the Tommy guns to keep up with the increasing firepower of the gangsters of the era, such as Al Capone and the infamous Giordano crime family. In fact, St. Louis was one of the few police department that was better armed than the criminals at the time, getting their hands on the automatic .45 ACP Thompsons before the bank robbers of the era. They eventually retired the Thompsons in the 1960’s when they upgraded to the more modern carbine systems. In storage they stayed, collecting dust, until 2014 when the police department decided to sell them.The original sale fell through, though, as fears that the required tax stamp process would delay the sale and minimize the profits. Three years of budget constraints and aging weapons later, the SLMPD found a new solution. Working with Gun Trades to broker the deal, the police department is selling the firearms outright to Midwest Distributors for a flat fee. Midwest will then handle the the individual sales and auctions, netting them a big profit. The police are also working with Police Trades to broker the sell off over 1,700 of their Beretta 92s and .223 Remington patrol carbines to Bill Hicks & Co., another firearms distributor. The combined sale should net the police department $1.2 million, allowing them to purchase 1,500 new Beretta APX handguns and a large amount of patrol rifles. The SLMPD also plans to keep two of the Tommy guns for display in the Police Academy, for posterity’s sake.
Original Thompson machine guns are highly sought after and hard to find. Since the National Firearms Act (NFA) in 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968, automatic firearms have been highly regulated. New full-auto Thompsons are no longer produced, so only the models before 1968 are available. Many are held up in private collections or have been destroyed. Because of this, there are few on the open market and most fetch $15,000 to over $30,000 not including the required $200 BATFE tax stamp. Hopefully, with 27 new rifles joining the pool, it may be easier to get your hands on one. If that price is too steep for you, you can always try one of the semi-auto versions from Auto-Ordnance or Thompson.