The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department hopes to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars by auctioning off most of the 30 Thompson submachine guns in the department's possession. Bought during the 1920's, when the "Tommy gun," was a favorite weapon of both gangsters and the lawmen who chased them, the guns have been gathering dust for decades, and the department wants to issue officers new pistols, so it's hard to dispute the fiscal reasoning behind this move. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
St. Louis police took them out of service perhaps 60 years ago, but 29 are still stored in a basement bunker at the Police Academy downtown, with a 30th in the crime lab. Chief Sam Dotson and some collectors think it may be the biggest police-owned stock of Thompsons in the United States.
And it is about to go on sale.
With the police budget ever-stretched, Dotson said the department is planning to auction off what could approach $1 million worth of the guns in the next six months, and put the proceeds toward new sidearms for the whole force.
One could perhaps question the stated need for new pistols: to replace the current 9mm Berettas with sidearms chambered for the .40 S&W cartridge, thus "matching criminals' greater firepower," but that's an argument for another time.
The surprising part is that the St. Louis Police Department is willing to sell firearms to private citizens at all, especially fully-automatic guns, chambered in the powerful (by pistol caliber standards) .45 ACP cartridge. SLMPD Chief Sam Dotson, after all, has shown little enthusiasm for an armed private citizenry. Shortly after his appointment as Chief, The Riverfront Times noted that "gun control" was one of his top priorities, and quoted him as saying that, "As a society, we have to be serious about gun control." This column has noted that Chief Dotson once casually dismissed the Second Amendment's Constitutional protection of the fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms as merely a "belief" (emphasis added):
"I understand the Second Amendment, and I understand everyone's right, or their belief that they have a right to bear arms," he says.
Perusing his blog, his anti-gun stance is difficult to miss. He believes in "gun free" zones:
My approach has always been and always will be that guns have no place in our workplace or in our schools and we as a society have to be better about keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals.
He has been a featured speaker at the Demanding Moms' rallies.
He angrily denounced the U.S. Senate in April, 2013, for failing to pass the Manchin-Toomey "universal background check" bill.
He bizarrely claimed that by vetoing Missouri's "Second Amendment Preservation Act," Governor Jay Nixon was protecting the Second Amendment, because, "For my part, I have always believed that the right to bear arms for law-abiding citizens requires a robust effort on the part of law enforcement to keep guns out of the wrong hands," with the government, of course, deciding which hands are the "wrong" ones.
And then there's his call for an outright ban of "extreme, military-grade armaments":
And because there is no reasonable use or need for such things, people should not be allowed to own extreme, military-grade armaments.
And yet, as the Post-Dispatch article mentions, he is willing to sell to the public dozens of guns that Time Magazine described in 1939 as "the deadliest weapon, pound for pound, ever devised by man." The Thompson submachine gun is an actual "weapon of war," serving with distinction in both theaters of the Second World War and in countless other wars, in the armies of many other nations. Kinda sounds like something he would normally call an "extreme, military-grade armament," doesn't it?
So how does he reconcile that apparent cognitive dissonance? Perhaps the Post-Dispatch knows:
The department wants to make sure the guns don’t take any more souls. “We want to be selective and make sure these aren’t going into the wrong hands,” [SLMPD Sgt. Christopher] Tucker said.
High prices and federal restrictions should help see to that.
Ah, yes--with prices of fully-automatic firearms vastly and artificially inflated by the Hughes Amendment's prohibition of private ownership of post-1986 machine guns, only the wealthy will be buying the department's Tommy guns. So don't worry--with the feds' gun equivalent of the poll taxes of post-Civil War infamy, we can rest assured that the riffraff will be kept out of the Tommy gun club.