Clayton tells of a guy walking around a gun show with an M3 “Grease Gun” sticking out of his backpack that he was trying to sell. Sounds like it wasn’t in perfect working condition, but was still a real deal submachine gun. I agree with Clayton something like that had a reasonable probability of being a sting, but I think the “found in dad’s attic” types are going to get more numerous as the Vietnam generation starts to die out. I think it’s reasonable to suggest that many of their next of kin will have no idea they are dealing with an unregistered machine gun that could land them ten years in prison, so it seems completely reasonable to believe some of them will try to sell their heirlooms completely ignorant that they are risking getting caught in a serious federal felony. The stings can go both ways.
That’s why I’m very interested in getting the Veterans Heritage Firearms Act made into law before the Vietnam generation starts dying off in large numbers, and while the last of the World War II veterans are still with us. There would be no legal remedy for someone finding a historic war bring back in their dad’s attic. The only legal course of action is to turn it in to be destroyed. The impetus for the VHFA was the discovery of a German machine gun captured by Alvin York, which was unregistered, and which was only saved from destruction by the actions of the local police department. It’s actually illegal for even the cops to have an unregistered machine gun, but I suppose ATF wasn’t willing to do anything about it.
A lot of folks might believe that they are better off not registering these heirlooms, lest they be one day confiscated by a future gun-hating government, and I think those people have a point. But in that case I think it’s important that next of kin are made aware of what they are dealing with. Also, for pieces that are truly historic, or for folks who want to actually be able to shoot their heirlooms, I think it’s important that they have the opportunity.