When politicians attempt to ban things via regulations and taxes, weird results usually follow. In the case of automatic firearms, the stage was set by the enactment of the bizarre National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, which was upheld by the infamous U.S. v. Miller decision. Under the NFA, full-auto firearms have to be registered with the federal government and a $200 tax paid. The “tax” at the time of enactment was the equivalent of $4,000 today, on items that varied in value from 1/10th the amount of the tax to roughly same amount for a Thompson sub machine gun . . .
The crafters of the NFA admitted that the amount was a way to subvert the Second Amendment through taxation rather than an outright ban. Subsequent Supreme Court decisions gutted the meaning of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution, rendering the reporting requirement for interstate travel of the firearms moot. Some states are attempting to restore that limit on federal power today.
The second part of the charade occurred in 1986, when a controversial vote on the 1986 firearms owners protection act was used to place a ban on the manufacture or import of full-auto firearms for civilian use, effectively freezing the number of automatic firearms legally available to those registered with the BATF at the time the law went into effect. Because of increasing demand and a fixed supply, the price of these guns sky-rocketed. Thompson submachine guns, highly desired by collectors, rose more than most. Today, legal Thompsons run from $30,000 to $50,000.
The Sheriff’s Department in Forsyth County, North Carolina, recently discovered that they own a couple of vintage 1928 Tommy guns and they’ve engineered a deal to trade them for some rifles. Most people would think that unloading a couple of antique firearms for 88 brand new ARs would be a good deal. Most people would be wrong.
FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. – Forsyth County Sheriff Bill Schatzman defended his department’s request to trade two vintage Thompson submachine guns for 88 new Bushmaster rifles as county commissioners reignited their debate on Thursday.
Apprarently, some people in the county think it might be a good idea to hang onto the Thompsons, which have some historical value.
Commissioner Mark Baker asked if the board decided to keep one gun for historical purposes and trade the other, could the county get 44 rifles. Schatzman didn’t know.
Sheriff Schatzman mentioned that keeping the guns and putting them on display involved serious costs of its own:
“What would you do with a diamond ring if it was worth $30 to $50,000? How would you display it? Would you put armed guards around it or just put it in an alarmed case?” Schatzman asked.
(Baker) was confused by the Tommy gun concerns.
“They’ve been in a dark room collecting dust and rust for the last 50 years,” Schatzman said. “Why are they so important today? I ask that question in all honesty. I don’t know the answer.”
Readers know the answer to that question, at least in part. They are so important today because those who want to undercut the Second Amendment have managed to put laws in place that create artificial shortages and perverse economic incentives. Just as intended by the government back in 1934.
©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.