The St. Louis Police Department is looking to raise money by auctioning off 30 Tommy guns that have been collecting dust in a basement bunker for some 60 years.
Police Chief Sam Dotson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the department is planning to auction off what could approach $1 million worth of Thompson submachine guns in the next six months. That money will then be put toward new firearms for the whole force.
The collection was appraised by a local dealer in 2012 at $770,000, but police and some collectors believe it could sell for much more. The collection includes rare 1921 and 1927 Colts and a model made in 1942, The Post-Dispatch reported.
“It’d be nice for nostalgia to have those in the police department forever,” said Jeff Roorda, business manager of the St. Louis Police Officers Association. “But the more pressing need now is that officers have firepower that matches the firepower in the hands of the bad guys.”
Police Sgt. Christopher “Blake” Tucker, who oversees the department’s firearms division, said the department will be selective in choosing a buyer to ensure the Tommy guns don’t get “into the wrong hands,” The Post-Dispatch reported.
A federal license to possess a fully automatic weapon can take up to year to obtain, with the applicant first passing a background check and receiving approval from the local police chief.