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Unregistered Thompson. What To Do?


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I live in Alabama, and I know someone who has an unregistered Thompson that was once issued as part of a drug task force in the 60's or 70's. The person who was issued the firearm (and an original 1911) rented some office space back in the day from my friend's father, and it has been there ever since. Is there any way to make owning it legal without consenting to a legal cavity search, or does he just need to bury it?
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Sounds like if it is registered, it is to an agency. If you know what one, best to get it back there and let someone check on it. Either way, there is no way your compadre can keep it lawfully. If it is transferrable, the only way to salvage it and keep it in circulation is if the agency who registered gets it back.
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Garandnut, the reason I'm asking is because I want to buy this Thompson, IF I can make everything legal. I believe the agency that used this gun was put together by the county and has been disbanded. And I don't want to ask "The Authorities" about such a touchy subject until I've had some background info first. I have not yet been able to find any legislation concerning this particular scenario and was wondering if anyone else has either been in this situation, or known of someone who has, and what advice they would give. Besides I don't think the relevant government agency would look lightly upon somebody turning in a submachine gun they didn't know what else to do with decades after finding it. When was it made a law they had to be registered? Is there a possibility such ownership may be grandfathered? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Garandnut, the reason I'm asking is because I want to buy this Thompson, IF I can make everything legal. I believe the agency that used this gun was put together by the county and has been disbanded. And I don't want to ask "The Authorities" about such a touchy subject until I've had some background info first. I have not yet been able to find any legislation concerning this particular scenario and was wondering if anyone else has either been in this situation, or known of someone who has, and what advice they would give. Besides I don't think the relevant government agency would look lightly upon somebody turning in a submachine gun they didn't know what else to do with decades after finding it. When was it made a law they had to be registered? Is there a possibility such ownership may be grandfathered? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

Unfortunately, thanks to gun laws passed in 1934, and added-to in 1968 and again in 1986; there is no finders-keepers in the world of NFA guns. No unregistered posession is allowed even if it were your grandpap's gun hidden in the attic.

(The debate over a grandfathered amnesty is for another post...)

 

Even if the gun was/is registered to a gov't entity - it may not even be a civvie-transferable registration.

Or; given the "embarassment" of yet another gov't agency mis-placing one of their machineguns - they may not be of a mind to be willing to sell it to a private-party.

 

You can spend some money on a good firearms attorney to do some legwork for you, and hope for the best. Just don't set yourself up for disappointment.

 

 

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If you have an attorney friend who will do it on the cheap, have him check into the ownership of it and see if it has been registered. If it has not been then you are SOL...it's an illegal firearm and will be until the possibility of another amnesty comes around. If it belongs to a LEA then you can get your attorney friend to return it without you getting in trouble.
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The first thought that comes to mind is don't be stupid and broadcast the news to everyone in the world by asking about this on the internet.

 

Your choices are extremely limited in this case, there is no grey area, the firearm is either registered or it is not. If not there is absolutely no way other than an act of congress that it can be registered and that act of congress will probably not be coming in our life time. First get the serial number and call NFA branch to see if the Thompson is in the registry. If it is not that is the end of the discussion, strip it for parts. Should it be in the registry, find the agency that it belongs to and return it, following that you can start the process to buy it if they are willing or able to sell it. Again, there is no debate on the status of the firearm, it is either registered or it is not.

 

Being in possession of an unregistered NFA firearm is not a game, if you are caught with one you are opening yourself up to a world of misery. There are plenty of legal Thompsons for sale everyday that you can buy if you want one without risking jail, a fine or both.

 

 

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You or your friend are looking at 10 years in club fed’s suite w/ Bubba as your room mate or a $250K fine my friend!! An unregistered NFA firearm can't legally be owned, sold, or transferred in any way since May 19, 1986. Burying it would also be a felony, because you are destroying evidence of the illegal possession.

 

Listen to the advice, talk to a lawyer to check if it has been registered or how it should be turned over to BATFE. You are probably thinking that you can own this for a song that is why you are considering this option instead of getting what’s on the market, but what you save will never be commensurate to the price of freedom!!!

Edited by Sgt. Saunders
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FWIW, the attorney keeping a unlawful possessor anon thing is internet legend. In order for tax info to be released to said attorney, he/she has to provide documentation of authority to act on behalf of the registrant.

 

*Generally*, firearms are not tregistered to task forces (some exceptions, but not common), they are registered to one of the agencies that participates.

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This tommy must be a primo colt and at a good price to put yourself through the upcoming hassle. I treat the ATF the same as the IRS, the hassle to fight them isn't worth the headache or results, what they say is pretty much binding and both can hurt you in ways you haven't dreamed of, not to mention the many sleepless nights. As Dave Ramsey says, " Get Gazelle Intense and RUUUUUN!!!!!

-Darryl

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Southern Man

 

I am no expert and can only offer my opinion, for what it is worth (won't buy you a cup of coffee). I was a Class III LE dealer for 9 years and dealt with a similar scenario on a number of ooccassions. When I was negotiating with a LE agency who was interested in trading Class III firearms, the question of transferable status was always of immediate interest to me, since it determined the trade value of the firearm. At my request, the agency would send a written request to NFA branch identifying the firearm by description and serial number, and specifically state that the firearm is in their possession and that they were trying to determine the "transferable status" of the firearm. NFA almost always responded in writing within 4-6 weeks (usually sooner) with a copy of paperwork or a "not found in registry". With that limited experience in mind, I see several obstacles for you: 1 - my requests were always via an LE agency and written on agency letterhead, 2 - the firearm was actually in possession of the agency, 3 - I had a good idea what the response would be from NFA prior to the request.

 

Only once did the NFA ask why the agency was inquiring. The agency responded by saying that they were trying to determine if the arm should be put in service or their museum. Neither answer matters when determining transferable status but NFA accepted it and provided status. NFA cannot deny status to an agency based on their intent to transfer the arm. A call to your local ATF office will probably result in a basic answer that will include, " machine guns are not legal for civilians to own" and "surrender it for disposition", etc. Local ATF offices typically are less informed regarding NFA regulations than NFA Washington. If you contact ATF, make sure you only correspond with NFA Washington, DC, and probably then with a specialist.

 

Theoretically, if a tax has been paid on the arm previously, then it should be a "live" gun. THEORETICALLY! You would do well to locate the original agency and see if they want it back (they probably will and I don't blame them) or a local museum.

 

Feel free to message me about the museum option.

 

 

Now for the most important thought - NO FIREARM IS WORTH JAIL-TIME AND LOSING YOUR FULL RIGHTS OF CITIZENSHIP. Your best option is probably to distance yourself from this possibilty.

 

 

Greg

 

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If you contact ATF, make sure you only correspond with NFA Washington, DC, and probably then with a specialist.

 

 

NFA Branch has not been located in Washington, DC for a number of years. It is currently located in Martinsburg, WV.

 

244 Needy Road

Martinsburg, WV 25405

 

Phone: 304 616-4500

Fax: 304 616-4501

 

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (except federal holidays)

 

http://www.atf.gov/pub/nfab/

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I'd be suprised if the ATF hasn't already contacted Dalbert about your personal information. Don't be surprised when they come a knocking on your door looking for the unregistered tommy.

-Darryl

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Why make things so complicated. I've had mystery MGs walk into my store.

All I have ever had to do was call the NFA branch, tell them I have MG that I dont kow if its registered or not, and give them the SN. 5 seconds later they tell me yes or no. I've had them tell me yes 3 times, and NO twice. For the yes customers I send them on their way and tell them to contact a lawyer because what they have is worth big bucks.

 

And for an un-registered STEN and M2 carbine that came in, I bought the guns for parts, stripped them down to the receivers and gave the receivers to the local PD. I've never been asked any questions at time of delivery or received a follow up from any alphabet agency.

Edited by bigbore
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Seriously? I'd be shocked if the ATF gave a rats ass about a sole 70 year old hunk of metal in the hands of someone who's gonna covet it as a safe queen. Make tons of them, sell tons of them, sure, but a collector piece? In this age of Gov't red tape? I'd take my chances....

 

I'd be suprised if the ATF hasn't already contacted Dalbert about your personal information. Don't be surprised when they come a knocking on your door looking for the unregistered tommy.

-Darryl

 

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I was involved with an estate sale several years ago and all of this wild internet crap about ATF had that widow scared to death. She had been convinced ATF was going to kick the door in during the middle of the night and confiscate the firearms following her husband's death.

 

Once I got the details of her situation I called the local ATF office, told them the situation and they worked with me to help this lady out. I was told that as long as I was working on getting the firearms sold or back to the other partner of the business they were happy. The agent I dealt with at ATF on that case was great. He and I remain friends to this day. ATF is not out beating the bushes for every unregistered firearm out there but then again if you wave it in their face they will be forced to do their job.

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I got called in to help with a friend's estate after he died suddenly. He was a dealer, but had been fighting an illness that had him in bad shape for a long while. When I got into it, we had guns with no paperwork, paperwork with no guns, stuff was being discovered in various places in his condo and office and it was a huge mess. The local ATF guys came in and couldn't have been more helpful. If they wanted to, they could have charged in and acted like Attilla the Hun, but instead they gave us plenty of time to find everything, get the paperwork squared away and assisted whenever we needed it. I got one of the Title II items in the inventory as "payment" for my help (I didn't ask and the widow insisted.) and the local agent got the transfer turned around in three days!

 

So yes, there are thugs with badges in ATF, but there's some decent professionals, too.

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Yep...that about sums it up for me too. I have turned in several MGs from people off the street ( I'm not a gun dealer , just a gun nut). I strip them , clean them , then call the sherriff to come pick them up. In a few months he tells me the results of the turn-in. If one ever comes back registered , I'l reassemble it and help return it to the owner. So far , none have been. I sell the parts to fund my hobby or use them to upgrade my collection or as spares.

The person's problem goes away , an un-registered gun get off the street and stays out of bad hands , the Sherriff feels good , and I have a warm fuzzy feeling inside. A win-win-win-win for sure. Chris

 

PS- for those who think having an un-registered MG is cool , think about it. Notice I did not say "own". You will/do not own it , it owns you. It is a stone around your neck. You cannot have it in piece , you cannot shoot it in peace , you can't enjoy it always looking over your shoulder , you can't shoot it without everybody a mile around hearing you. You need to just take care of the problem.

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Seriously? I'd be shocked if the ATF gave a rats ass about a sole 70 year old hunk of metal in the hands of someone who's gonna covet it as a safe queen. Make tons of them, sell tons of them, sure, but a collector piece? In this age of Gov't red tape? I'd take my chances....

 

I'd be suprised if the ATF hasn't already contacted Dalbert about your personal information. Don't be surprised when they come a knocking on your door looking for the unregistered tommy.

-Darryl

 

 

Knock knock... "Who's there?" "A friend of David Albert!" "Oh, OK, Let me finish polishing up my illegal machine gun." "Take your time we're polishing up your new bracelets."

Edited by Z3BigDaddy
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