Letters to SAR: March 2000
By Dan Shea
About a year and a half ago, a WWII veteran approached a local class 3/collector with what you see in the photos, Imagine the dealer’s surprise when he saw a near mint MKb(H) 42, along with 500 rounds of ammo! (Ed- we didn’t have room for the photos at this point)
A quick inquiry revealed the sad news that the gun was never registered and therefore contraband. The gun was duly reported to ATF and turned over to them the following day, which coincided with our monthly shoot. ATF allowed all present to handle and thoroughly examine this rare and historic firearm. The condition, as I stated, is excellent. The serial number is in the 800’s range, (if my memory serves). Significant differences between this gun and the final product, (the MP44) are the full length gas tube, bayonet lug and a two lever safety/selector system, (as opposed to the safety level and push-through button selector on the MP44).
Our local ATF office has agents who, besides being firearms enthusiasts, are well aware of the significance of this particular weapon and went the extra mile to protect and preserve this unique piece of firearms history. Through the auspices of local agents and John Magaw, Director at ATF, the agency arranged for the gun, along with the history of the veteran who captured it, to be donated to the Springfield Armory Museum. The gun resides there today.
My point is the examples of good relationships between ATF and NFA community abound, you just never hear about them. Our local agents are professional, pro-gun for the most part and we have always had excellent relationships with them here in South Florida.
Sincerely, Doug Andrews
SAR: What a wonderful story. Unfortunately, it can be balanced very easily with many stories of the guns taken from the rightful owners and destroyed by the US government. It is a sad thing that so many war trophies, historic or exotic pieces, have been destroyed. It is cheering to hear about a group of government employees doing their jobs properly. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is not supposed to be an advocacy agency- neither “Pro”, nor “Anti” firearms ownership- they are supposed to enforce the regulations and tax issues that are presented to them by the people of the United States, through the legislature. This is supposed to be done under the auspices of the Constitution of the United States.
I would suspect that the agents you dealt with were not “Pro-gun”, but that they were simply professionals doing a job, and may have taken pleasure in seeing such an historic piece placed in a museum. On a personal level, they may well have taken pleasure in this as well.
This writer’s opinions on the subject are pretty well known, but I will attest to them once again. While I do not expect to see one in the present political climate, a continuing Amnesty program is needed. Why should this heroic American citizen be stripped of his trophy from that battle for Freedom years ago? The answer is simple; he shouldn’t be. He should be allowed to register this firearm, and leave it to his lawful heirs. Do I object to the taxation of the National Firearms Act? Of course, but I acknowledge that it is one of the Constitutional tools that our legislature has chosen to use. We have to live with this situation every day, so we make the best of it. It is the 1986 act banning further manufacture, and the 1968 GCA that allowed the first Amnesty that need to be looked at. There have been around 32 years of injustice on this issue.
Why is it necessary for this wonderful piece of history to be ripped from the arms of its rightful owner, and placed into a government-affiliated museum, where Lord only knows if the general population or even the owner will ever see it again? Simply because there are some criminals exist who might misuse it if they found it? It is doubtful the basic crackhead could load and operate the gun, let alone use it to rob convenience stores. Certainly the law abiding citizen who owned the Mkb 42h was within his constitutional rights to own it. What possible reason could there be for him to not keep it? Why couldn’t the NFRTR be noted that this piece was in his possession? He certainly had it before the 1968 Amnesty.
I am preaching to the choir again. I don’t see there being a general amnesty right now, but considering the fact that the NFRTR has been demonstrated to be “Off” many times, perhaps a corrective measure would be to de-criminalize certain forms of paperwork non-compliance- in order to get things “Right”, and then allow for an on-going registration process at least for certain war trophies. I am going to keep working towards this. Almost all Class 3 dealers have had their transfer “Nightmares”- the notice from NFA Branch that “a firearm is not in your name- please prove that it is”. That’s why we all keep records as meticulously as possible. What could be wrong with treating the process like the tax collection registry that it is, and going for good data, and allowing legitimate war trophies to stay in the hands of the veterans and their families?
SAR has some VERY interesting articles coming up on the NFRTR and inaccuracies. Keep your eye on these pages.
And, thanks for the heartening story, to those of us who collect and study these firearms, seeing an Mkb go to a museum instead of the chopping block is kind of like a pet lover seeing a dog at the dog pound find a new home, and all of us are wishing we could have given that poor little Mkb a nice, safe, warm home ourselves.
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