St Louis Police To Sell 27 Thompson Sub Machine Guns for $22,000/ea

The St. Louis Police Department is upgrading their hardware by selling off some historic and collectible submachine guns. Twenty Seven iconic Thompsons bought newly 100 years ago for $125 will be sold to Midwest Distributors in Kentucky for $22K each. Being that they are properly registered NFA items, Midwest will in turn sell the rifles to private collectors via the ATF Form 3/Form 4 transfer process.

The department is also selling off about 1,750 Beretta 92 pistols to Bill Hicks & Co for $222 each. Proceeds of the sales will go to fund new handguns and patrol rifles for officers. Seeing as how the Thompsons were most likely gathering dust, this is a smart move to finance modern firearms and get sub machine guns into the hand ps of shooter who will love and appreciate them.

Put me down for a 92, since there’s no room in my budget for a rifle that will end up on the market for $40,000.


St. Louis police sell surplus weapons, including Tommy guns, for $1.2 million – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Thompson automatic submachine guns like this one, photographed at police headquarters on Thursday, May 29, 2014, are being sold by the St. Louis Police Department. Photo by Christian Gooden@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS • The St. Louis Police Department is selling a stash of guns that bring to mind Prohibition-era gangsters for cash to put new a handgun in every officer’s holster, plus arm the department with a number of AR-15 rifles.

The rifles and about 1,525 new 9 mm Beretta handguns will be paid for largely by the sale of 27 Thompson submachine guns, some dating to the 1920s. The proceeds from the vintage weapons will cover about half of the new arsenal — the first shipment of which is expected to arrive in August. The sale of the Berettas currently used by officers and other surplus weapons will make up the rest.

St. Louis decommissioned its Thompson submachine guns about 60 years ago. They have been stored in a basement bunker inside the police academy ever since. The guns, more commonly known as Tommy guns, were often the weapon of choice among gangsters during the Roaring ’20s and the 1930s, but they were also carried by lawmen of the time. In later years, FBI agents carried them.

Chesterfield-based Police Trades is the broker for the $1.2 million deal, which was signed in January by then-Chief Sam Dotson. Raymond Reynolds, the president of Police Trades and a retired St. Louis police lieutenant, is somewhat of a history buff with an affection for the iconic guns. He said he found original paperwork showing that the department had paid about $125 a piece for the submachine guns.

The department’s new handguns will cost $450 each, said Carol Shepard, the police department’s purchasing procurement manager. The department’s current Beretta handguns are more than 10 years old, and becoming obsolete, making replacement parts nearly impossible to come by, she said. One of them failed to fire during a training exercise, Shepard added.

“The original reason to sell the weapons was to purchase new duty weapons, and we did so well on the sale, we will be able to purchase rifles as well, by our own actions without using any budget money,” Shepard said. “That was the most important thing for us. We made our own money to take care of our own problem.”

Once additional equipment is purchased for the new handguns, Shepard said there will be about $350,000 left over to buy a number of AR-15 rifles for the department.

Interim Chief Lawrence O’Toole has said rifles will be assigned only to a certain number of officers per district. The department will have a policy regarding how and when the rifles can be used to avoid unnecessary or inappropriate shows of force and avoid escalating tension in the community, O’Toole has said.

The department had discussed auctioning the Tommy guns in May 2014, but only those who hold a federal license can buy such weapons. Obtaining a permit can take up to a year. An applicant must pass a background check, pay a $200 federal tax and notify the local police chief of the purchase.

In addition, the ATF must approve the transfer of the Tommy guns — a process that can take 90 days, Reynolds said.

A local dealer appraised the department’s collection in 2014 at $770,000. It includes rare 1921 and 1927 Colts and a model made in 1942.

Kentucky-based Midwest Distributors will pay $22,000 for each of the department’s 27 Tommy guns, which makes up the bulk of the $618,500 the company is spending to buy the department’s surplus weapons.

A second company, Minneapolis-based Bill Hicks & Co., will buy 1,748 Beretta handguns that have served as the department’s duty weapons for about $221 apiece. The same company will buy a number of 223 carbine rifles and some other guns from the department, for a total of about $597,000.

Reynolds said police firearms are in high demand because they usually are well-maintained and only fired during training exercises.

“But at some point it costs more (to the city) to maintain them than the value they will receive for selling them,” Reynolds said.

Once the companies buy the department’s surplus weapons, they will be sold only to those who pass background checks. Reynolds’ company will allow St. Louis police officers to buy back their duty weapons as personal weapons if they so desire.

The contract between Reynolds and the police department has been awaiting approval from the city counselor’s office. The comptroller’s office also must approve it. Once the contract is final, the department will contact Police Trades and start transferring the weapons, Shepard said.

The department isn’t letting go of all of its nostalgic Tommy guns. It is keeping two of them to be displayed inside the crime lab, she said.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the type of approval a buyer must get from local law enforcement before purchasing highly regulated firearms.





Pete

LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Pete.M@staff.thefirearmblog.com
Twitter: @gunboxready
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  • Klaus Von Schmitto

    It’s nearly impossible to find Beretta 92f parts?

    • tsubaka

      “1,525 new 9 mm Beretta handguns”
      and they replace beretta’s by beretta’s go figure

      • PTMcCain

        STL LEOs just report that the department figured, we’ll replace Berettas with Berettas because that’s what everyone is used to and less to do when the new handguns arrive. They seem to work just fine.

  • BattleshipGrey

    Pretty cool they’re willing sell them off to the people (provided they’re approved by the ATF). I suggested to my chief once that we auction off some old shotguns for some red dot sight funds and he cringed at the thought of them going to the public, even though shotguns are just as common as lawn mowers where we are.

    • Mark Are Reynolds Ⓥ

      Get rid of that “chief”.

  • CoastieGM

    This is all kinds of right. Paying for stuff without a burden on the tax payer while also getting new transferable machine guns on the market. I wish more departments did this sort of thing. And not just with surplus but also confiscated weaPons and weapons people turn into the police because they don’t know what to do with them. I remember a while back reading an article about an elderly lady who during a gun buy back brought in a STG-44 her husband had brought back from WWII. She didn’t know what to do with it. The police where nice enough to not take it and refer her to a firearms dealer so she could get its real value. But imagine some of the guns that might have been destroyed the could be used to offset the budgets of the police.

    • iksnilol

      But that would also incentivize police confiscating weapons. Which could mean that police would be more hardline just to snag that sweet/expensive gun you had with you.

      • AZgunner

        Kind of hard to do if you’re not breaking the law. Contrary to what the internet would have you believe, the police here don’t generally run around beating and robbing normal people.

        • iksnilol

          Ah, see, you’ve fallen for their newspeak already.

          Just tighten the laws and you can police for profit. And no harm done, after all, they’re just criminals. That’s what they did with drugs, add for profit prisons and you’ve got a hella neat circumvention of the 13th amendment.

          • Mark Are Reynolds Ⓥ

            As if taxes on your labor isn’t a neat circumvention of the 13th amendment.

          • iksnilol

            Not really.

        • SPQR9

          Not “generally”, just occasionally.

        • Mark Are Reynolds Ⓥ

          Well except for all of them. If you don’t call getting a $1500 fine for having so little marijuana on you that it is gone when they test it not robbing you, then I guess I don’t know the meaning. Oh, that’s right, it’s “the law” so that makes it ok to rob you. And as for beating normal people? Don’t you mean beating normal SLAVES? Anyone who would dare to question their “authority” risks getting beat in the USA, or worse yet…shot to death.

          • Brian Menin

            “So little marijuana”? So you had a legal amount?

          • Archie Montgomery

            Yes. The doper collective object. Duly noted.

      • Smitty26

        Dutch police took some guns of my collection for investigation.They are lost some where in there “system”.I have a claim of 12.500 euro layed down at the court for 3 years now.The case is still not solved.
        Probably these weapons are stolen by police officer………………….

        • iksnilol

          SEE? Called it, policing for profit only ends badly.

        • Mark Are Reynolds Ⓥ

          WHAT? Police stealing things? That just can’t be! (NOT!)

      • jcitizen

        If the weapons are post 1986, then they won’t get much for them, because they are worthless to collectors.

        • iksnilol

          I dunno, plenty of fancy rifles that cost thousands of dollars… which could easily sell again for almost as much (precision rifles, race AR’s, high end shotties, that kinda thing).

          • jcitizen

            Okay, I thought we were talking about weapons that fit the NFA. I agree that states and local departments should not be allowed to make confiscation a habit, unless conviction is successful. Some states even protect the ownership beyond that – probably few though. I had one friend that sued the Kansas City Missouri PD to get his belly gun back from a traffic stop. I believe he was successful, but then he didn’t mind spending more on the lawyer than the gun was worth.

      • Archie Montgomery

        Of interest in this sub-discussion: There are police departments and individual members thereof who abuse their authority. One notes the bulk of those agencies are in areas controlled by left-wing gun owner haters. The sorts of departments who would NEVER sell a weapon to a responsible citizen.

    • jcitizen

      It depends on how friendly the local BATF office is – The BATF has, as a rule, refused to give amnesty to new registrations, despite a promise to institute them occasionally or on a timeline. I know when I was in the business my agents would pull out all the stops to try to find the serial numbers in the data base so they could legally register them and give them back to the owner. But without those records they had no choice but to destroy them.

  • USMC03Vet

    This is nice. Way better than melting them down to fund some fake artists political agenda that’s for sure.

    • Ced Truz

      Couldn’t agree more. Destroying historical firearms should be a crime!

  • Rabies

    As a self proclaimed Beretta fan, and someone who has lived in the St. Louis area for the past 20 years, I really want one of those pistols!

    • hghgf

      As a resident of st.louis, well st.louis county, I’m going to go to stlmpd to get me one.

      • neckbone

        As if they are just handing them out at the station. Don’t forget to scream aloha snack bar when you waltz inside too.

  • Hmmm… New BMW R1200GSA, or a Thompson….

    • michael franklin

      The Thompson will only go up in value, the BMW, not so much.

      • lucusloc

        unless we manage to repeal Hughes, then the prices will crash. Not that we are close to doing that (need to delist suppressors and SBSs/SBRs first) but It definitely is on the roadmap for the distant future. If we are lucky that investment may only be good for another decade or so.

        • Sunshine_Shooter

          If it ever gets repealed.

          The BMW will always go down in value.

          • lucusloc

            This is true, we may not succeed in getting the registry reopened. But at this point treating NFA items as a long term investment is risky, since there are actually quite a lot of people who are working to reopen the registry (and even longer term, repeal the NFA entirely). Short term they are probably still good investments (or at least good places to stash savings that is pretty inflation resistant) but any whiff that the registry has a chance of reopening will pretty seriously harm the value. If the fight over the HPA, and the following fight to delist SBSs/SBRs, goes well that whiff may come sooner than people expect.

          • gusto

            you don’t think people will like old cars in the future?

            if you hang on to anything long enough it becomes an antique

        • glenn cheney

          Been some liquidating at high ebb tide prices.
          Buy low, or using OPM, ( other people’s money, esp. the taxpayer) but sell high if musical chairs music might stop.
          These babies would hold their value based on collectibility.
          But some class III clan members watching the political winds to avoid being last one in the whip crack.
          I last had a full auto in my hands near the fan tail of the Darby, DD 218, now proudly growing groupers.
          SLPD lol will be among the first to go to .45 ACP SBR’s.

        • Art out West

          Or we could just ban BMWs. That would make the value of the BMW go up.
          It makes as much sense as banning FA firearms.
          🙂

        • Aaron

          That assertion is patently ridiculous. These 80+ year old firearms will only suffer a tiny price drop because the age, historic value, and the fact that even in the face of a Hughes amendment repeal someone would have to come out and produce verbatim or improved full auto copies to even compete. Full auto AR-15s on the other hand…

          • lucusloc

            If firearms auctions for firearms of the same era are to be trusted they will drop from the expected $40k price to the high single digit thousands, or maybe low double digit thousands for exemplary examples. Still way more than a perfect post repeal reproduction by double or triple, but also still under a third of their current market value. The only thing keeping the price that high is their enforced scarcity.

            Thinking about it from a market forces perspective this actually makes a lot of sense. The people who will be competing for these guns are not just collectors interested in their historical value, but also people who want access to full auto capability. If the people who just wanted access to full auto had a modern repro to satisfy their itch they would lower the demand on these historic arms. Since the quantity of historic arms is by definition fixed, this lessening of demand should correspond with a price reduction. That is econ 101 level stuff.

            Granted we cannot say for sure what would happen, as the historic firearms market is rife with oddities that command far higher prices than anyone would expect, but I’m not willing to bet a $40k investment on the tommy gun being one of those outliers.

        • Jim_Macklin

          I really need to win the lottery. I did let my friend, who has wanted a real Thompson for 30+ years know. Maybe he’ll be able to buy a couple and I’ll get to shoot one a few times.

          • lucusloc

            You and me both 🙂

    • Mark Are Reynolds Ⓥ

      There are BMW’s out there that are appreciating right now due to their antique value. Why would you buy a motorcycle in the first place that is a BMW? I mean I can understand a BMW I8!

  • Holdfast_II

    Man, I wish I hadn’t bought a new vehicle earlier this year. A Tommy a Gun would have been sweet.

    • Wow!

      Just build your own. They are simple firearms. A guy called “oddball” on youtube has instructions on making a non-firing replica, but if you replace the drilled out barrel for a barrel blank and change the bolt and trigger group, you got for all purposes the real deal.

  • Brett baker

    Really, really wish I had the money for a Thompson when I got my Sten.(Only about 3300 difference in the early 90’s).

  • john huscio

    I’m guessing SLPD will be the first large agency to adopt the APX

  • QuadGMoto

    $22,000??? Welcome to Hughes Amendment inflation!

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      $22,000? Try the next figure listed, ~$40,000.

    • Mark Are Reynolds Ⓥ

      Like I said…proof the caste system is alive and well in the USA. Making them only affordable to the 2%, after all, us low caste dwellers shouldn’t have toys like that! Those should be available at gun shops today brand new for $1200 at the most. HOWEVER, thanks to the Hughes amendment…they aren’t.

      • jcitizen

        On that point alone I can definitely agree with you! Although I haven’t read the Hughes amendment for a while – I agree with it being a “caste” system.

  • LB

    The Thompsons sold to municipalities in the ’20’s were usually provided in fitted velvet-lined wood cases with the name of the city (and date) on a brass plate. Usually included one drum and two box magazines also fitted to the case. These are stunning if you’ve ever seen one.

    • jcitizen

      On of our local sheriff’s departments has that with a ’21 Colt and a 100 rd drum magazine. I mean beautiful!

  • Edward Franklin

    I wonder if my local police department will ever sell their old automatics. They threw a fit when Dillinger knocked over the bank in Sioux Falls, SD and they bought four Thompsons and two Colt Monitors. Can’t imagine what those two would sell for nowadays.

    • Scott Connors

      They have COLT MONITORS?!?!?! Since the factory only made 125 of these, and ninety went to the FBI, your department is looking at a huge windfall, provided your chief isn’t a moron.

      • HSR47

        Yeah. If they’re functional, they can probably get ~$50,000-80,000+ for each of them.

        • Scott Connors

          Heck, even if they’ve been dewatted they are still worth a fortune if they are NFA registered and transferable.

  • Sianmink

    Glad to see these Thompsons are going to find new homes with appreciative collectors. St Louis can do a lot of work with the proceeds besides. At $125 each new, it turned out to be a good investment of taxpayer money!

    • Dan K

      It’s actually a bad investment. If they put 125 dollars into the stock market and let it ride it’d be worth more than 100k now.

      • Mark Are Reynolds Ⓥ

        Except for the 1929 crash! They might have lost the 125!

      • Hoosier Steve

        If the company you bought stock in still survived and prospered. Or did not get reduced eto penny status during a downturn. What value today is GM stock purchased in 1939/

  • bpegg72

    This is welcoming news considering how anti-gun St. Louis is.

    • neckbone

      Amazing what near bankruptcy can make city officials do isn’t it?

    • Aaron

      St. Louis Missouri can’t preempt State law. No matter how bad St. Louis is it still beats the pants off of East St. Louis, Illinois hands down.

  • Sirgei

    I guess if you’re willing to fork over $40,000 for one you get to say “Keep the change, you filthy animal…”

  • shooter2009

    More than likely, the anti-gun crowd will challenge this and demand that the Thompsons be crushed and recycled as garden rakes…or some other politically-correct BS.

  • Lockmazter

    $40,000.oo ??? I find it disgusting that our government would artificially inflate the price of 1928 technology by making it so rare and restricted. “Shall not be infringed”, MY ASS!!!

    • glenn cheney

      The real culprits are the folks that protect their investment legislatively.
      Likely NRA would not back NFA repeal too far.
      Those dogs guard their bones.
      Speaking of canines, any seen any hush puppies lately?

      • Wow!

        You mean like a High Standard, or a breech lock lever modified handgun? If you want the former, just buy a tactical 22/45. If you want the latter, bring a handgun with a steel frame to a gunsmith and have him install a locking lever you can actuate with the thumb.

        • Norm Glitz

          High Standards are still being made. I’m ass-u-ming you mean the .22 target pistol.

  • Mark Are Reynolds Ⓥ

    I guess we can thank Ronald Reagan for the fact that only rich people can afford machine guns these days. Another proof that the caste system is alive and well in the USA. Those should be worth more then $125 as the monetary system is so screwed up due to inflation caused by the fact the money creators can create all they want out of thin air, but still, $22,000 each? Geezzzz

    • Norm Glitz

      Thank the congress for adding the ban to an otherwise good bill.

  • J S

    I would suggest , if available, they purchase M16’s from the milsurp program and convert them to semi auto with decent triggers. Pretty sure that would be even more of a money saving purchase.

  • Shootist

    Reagan’s love of gun control, the National Firearms Owners Protection Act, needs to be overturned by this Republican Congress and Trump.

    • Norm Glitz

      Maybe just the part that congress added to an otherwise good bill, by a specious voice vote that wouldn’t stand up to a head count.

  • Scot168

    I would love to buy one of the Thompson’s just so I could stand in front of the mirror and do my best Jimmy Cagney impersonations while holding it. Also just to own something as iconic as a the Tommy gun would be nice.

  • Ced Truz

    Oh man. If ever there was a time I wish I had an extra $22,000 laying around.

  • jonp

    Damn! Id be willing to take a loan out to preserve this piece of history. Im glad that instead of destroying them as gun banners would have wished they are being sold to collectors who will preserve and cherish them.
    Come on Powerball! Let Lady Luck smile on me tonight

  • Scott825

    “Twenty Seven iconic Thompsons bought newly 100 years ago for $125 will be sold to Midwest Distributors in Kentucky for $22K each. Being that they are properly registered NFA items, Midwest will in turn sell the rifles to private collectors via the ATF Form 3/Form 4 transfer process. The department is also selling off about 1,750 Beretta 92 pistols to Bill Hicks & Co for $222 each.”

    “Put me down for a 92, since there’s no room in my budget for a rifle that will end up on the market for $40,000.”

    ________________

    If the Thompson’s are worth $40K each, then why are they being sold to MDK for $22K each?

    Why don’t they sell them for $40K each, if that’s what they’re worth? Is there nobody at St. Louis Police Department who can figure out how to do that?

    For $22K they can hire a full time employee for a YEAR to figure out how to do it.

    But if they’re intent on giving these valuable collectors items away at nearly 50 cents on the dollar, can I get in on that deal too, or is someone at MDK the brother-in-law of the St. Louis Police Chief?

    .

  • Ben Pottinger

    This is both awesome and total and complete BS. It really really angers me that machine guns are basically completely legal, if your wealthy. It’s like the government saying SUVs are bad and limiting their production so that only millionaires can afford them. They don’t actually *ban* them, just raise the price tag to astronomical levels.

    Apparently it’s OK for 50 cent, eminem and (insert rich thug name here) but not ok for a decorated disabled veteran (because he can’t possibly afford it).

    And it’s not a case of “well earn more money newb!” Because for most class 3 guns the value is completely artificial thanks to may 86. Without that 99% of FA guns would cost 200$ more then their semi auto brothers.

  • Steve_7

    RIfles? Er…

  • Archie Montgomery

    What a logical and insightful manner in which to dispose of bits of history. Now if that sort of thinking would become a trend…