Saturday, March 22, 2014

An M3 Grease Gun Sticking Out of a Backpack at the Gun Show

I noticed the very distinctive muzzle of an M3 submachine gun sticking out of a backpack at the gun show today, and engaged the carrier in conversation.  This grabbed my full attention; if I could buy one legally at some reasonable price, I would love to have one.  What the carrier told me was:

1. A friend had found it in his father's attic after the father, a World War II veteran, had died.

2. It was a full auto M3, he was pretty sure, but the bolt was frozen, probably rusted, and it was best considered a collection of M3 parts.

My response was that a gun like that was worth many thousands of dollars, and probably five to ten in prison.

My first reaction was, "Was someone so stupid as to be walking around with an unregistered submachine gun, even one that was not operational, for sale?"

My second reaction was, "BATFE sting operation?"


  1. Could be either, but I'm betting there's going to be a lot of "found it in dad's attic," where folks have no idea how regulated it is and try to sell it not realizing.

    I don't get people who bring back war trophies and then fail to tell the kids what they're dealing with. Of course, it's possible the veteran didn't know either.

    We really need that Veterans Heritage Firearms Act. That way we can get all these historical pieces registered and get them into the hand of people who will preserve them, like museums and collectors.

    Well, heck, I might as well just do a post about this now :)

  2. When the veteran brought it back it may not have been so streng verboten, and who was talking about the unregistered forgotten guns in the attic in 1986, when the veteran might not have been completely compos mentis.
    This is another example of making criminals out of ordinary law abiding citizens because catching real evil doers is just too dangerous.

    I was at a gun show in So Cal and had a conversation with a guy with a table full of Garands who insisted a face-to-face private party transfer was legal. I kept my mouth shut and my money in my wallet, and thought later, "this might have been a sting." It is, after all, California.

  3. Seriously, folks...BATFE has better things to do than set up a "sting" to snare minor offenders one at a time at some gun show. That's not the sort of stuff that they do. I know that the conspiracy theorists will refuse to believe it, but it's the truth nonetheless. They've got more than enough hardcore criminals to pursue to waste time on trying to make new ones where there isn't even a problem.

  4. Logically, BATFE should have better things to do, but for more than 30 years, BATFE has a history of focusing on relatively minor errors (collectors who failed to do their paperwork correctly) while ignoring referrals from federal judges for convicted felons in possession of firearms. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ran a series of articles about BATFE entrapment of seriously retarded adults with felony convictions by paying twice retail for guns, causing an enormous flow of guns from licensed retailers to BATFE undercover operations.

    And then again, there is Fast & Furious....

  5. In regard to the M3 Grease gun article I just read in SGN, I would like to point out a couple factual errors. First, a Class III dealer is not needed to sell NFA controlled weapons. Individuals may sell them legally, but the NFA, if transferred intestate must first transferee to a CIII in the guy's state. If sold by an individual to a buyer in the same state, the NFA can transfer directly to the buyer. Interstate transfers avoid the transfer to the buyer's instate dealer if the buyer is a curio and relic licensee and the NFA is listed on ATF's C+R list.
    Second, there are tens of thousands of former US military NFA regulated weapons in the NFA registry, legally ought and old, and none have been sought by the US military authorities and returned to the US military.
    Many thanks for your tireless efforts bringing us your intelligent and interesting contributions to gun rights and related issues.

    Robert E. Naess
    Black River Militaria

  6. 1. Are M3's listed on C+R list?

    2. Instate transfer without a dealer still requires BATFE approval, right? It isn't something that you can sell at a gun show without BATFE approval.

    3. Does it seem likely that many former U.S. military registered M3s are found in someone's attic, properly registered?

  7. According to BATFE's list of curios and relics, some M3s made before 1954 qualify. However,

    "SECTION IV. National Firearms Act Weapons Classified
    as “Curios or Relics” Under 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44:
    These weapons (e.g.,
    machineguns) are firearms with
    in the scope of the National
    Firearms Act (NFA), 26 U.S.C.
    Chapter 53, and are subject to all NFA Ac
    t provisions. Accordingly, these wea
    pons cannot be lawfully transferred or
    received unless they are registered in the National Firearms
    Registration and Transfer Record at Bureau Headquarters.
    Once the registration requirements have been
    met, transfer may be made either intrastate or interstate to licensed
    collectors on ATF Form 4, "Application For
    Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of a Firearm." In each instance, first
    the appropriate transfer tax must be paid; ATF may then appr
    ove the transfer app
    lication. The application to transfer
    must be accompanied by an individual
    transferee's fingerprints
    and photograph as prescribed on the form. The form
    also requires a law enforcement official's certification, which must be completed."

    Theoretically, this guy could have sold this to a C&R collector at the show, but it appears that he still needs the NFA paperwork and permissions. This did not seem like a likely event.