Click the link for a pic of the gun. Interesting looking piece, early I assume.
July 13, 2004
Anyone need a Thompson?
By ALAN RAPPEPORT Staff Writer, (609) 272-7219
LONGPORT - Submachine guns are rarely needed in this quiet beach town, where crosswalk controversies and ice cream issues make tempers boil.
In fact, officials say police have never actually fired a submachine gun in the borough.
That is why commissioners gave the Police Department permission last week to sell an heirloom of borough law enforcement to help pay for more practical artillery.
In 1930, the borough acquired the 1921 Thompson submachine gun after an owner of the famed gun-making company came to the area, met Police Chief Richard DePamphilis - who is now 102 years old - and decided to send him a gun as a gesture of good will, according to Richard DePamphilis Jr., 77, who followed him as chief.
Only 15,000 Thompson 1921s were made, according to the book "Thompson: The American Legend, The First Submachine Gun," by Tracie Hill. In 1978, DePamphilis Jr. had the gun appraised and found it was worth $10,000. Some Web sites sell the same model for as much as $34,000 now.
"That one was kept in the closet at all times," said DePamphilis Jr., chief from 1975 to 1980. "The only time it would be used was if something big happened."
While hurricanes have attacked the borough many times over the years, there has yet to be a coup worthy of unleashing the "Tommy Gun."
The Police Department has only as many side arms as it has officers, according to Commissioner John Stroebele, and it needs some backup weapons.
"We don't even have a spare," Stroebele said. "We're trying to conserve taxpayer dollars. We're going to attempt to sell that in exchange for some other things that our police force needs."
Police Chief Scott Porter said that the department would see what kind of offers people would make for the gun.
"It's something of value, and we're going to see what kind of value we can get for it," Porter said.
The two-handled metal gun with a 50-round drum was designed during World War I by U.S. Army General John T. Thompson. He teamed up with retired U.S. Naval Commander John N. Blish to develop an ultra-light automatic rifle. The 1921 Thompson became a popular fixed wing gun on attack planes, according to Hill's book.
But DePamphilis never fired his machine gun.
The borough will consider trying to sell the gun back to the manufacturer, to be placed in a museum. Officials will also consider options such as gun auctions, eBay, and gun-enthusiast Web sites.
The police department is also planning to sell three Springfield M1 rifles that are stored in the armory, Porter said. Each has an estimated value of $1,000.
Edited by TNKen, 13 July 2004 - 08:27 AM.