ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - St. Louis City Police are auctioning off a series 29 of 1920's era Tommy guns. The guns valued at over $750,000 are stored in a police vault; they are also part of one of the largest Thompson submachine gun caches in the country. Chief Sam Dotson says selling the guns was a tough decision, but the money will be used to help officers in the field.
'What were told is outside of the military and federal government we have the largest cache of Tommy machine guns. The duty weapons that our officers carry have reached the end of their useful life; we need to buy new weapons for our officers. Budgets are tight and we had to be creative.' said Dotson
The guns are a perfect buy for collectors, but getting your hands on one won't be easy. Buyers must obtain a Federal Firearms License before bidding. The guns can hold anywhere between 30 to 50 rounds of .45 caliber ammunition. The original cost of the guns for the department was between $70 and $200 each.
The guns also represent a time in history shared the likes of Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone and Ma Barker. At the time, both police and criminals used the same Thompson submachine guns on the streets. Sgt. Blake Tucker says the guns are a unique buy, adding that wood shortages in the 1920`s forced manufactures to change the design of the gun.
'During prohibition it was a very nice weapon to have it could be compact and very easy to hide. The stocks were easily removed and the straps could be hidden in a jacket.' said Tucker
Gun prices can range from $15,000 to $40,000. One thing is for sure; buyers have to be ready and loaded to make the historic and iconic guns a part of their arsenal and collection.
'We`re going to be extra thoughtful and vigilant to make sure that we have a process that protects both the public and officers.' Dotson said
At this point no sale date has been set, but officials say the guns will go on sale sometime within the next year.