By John Brown

A Milestone for Thompson Collectors... Finally

Several months ago the NFATCA published a list of all of the things that we are working on with ATF on behalf of the industry and collectors nationwide. On that list was support that we were offering to the Thompson Collectors Association (TCA) in having the 1928 West Hurley Thompsons added to the C&R list of firearms, as determined by BATFE.

The work behind this initiative actually began in June of 2005 when the TCA requested that the Firearms Technology Branch consider adding "Model 1928 Thompson sub-machineguns (all calibers, including .45 and .22) manufactured in the 1970s and 1980s by the Auto Ordnance Corporation, West Hurley, New York, to the C&R list. In January of 2006 the TCA received a letter from FTB acknowledging their request and informing them: "Upon reviewing the information you provided and conducting our own research into this matter in the context of Federal statutes and regulations, FTB has determined that any fully transferable Thompson submachine gun derives a substantial part of its monetary value due to its intimate association with the social and military history of the United States. Therefore the following submachine guns have been classified as C&R items: All fully transferable Thompson sub-machine guns registered on or before May 19, 1986.

Needless to say, this letter made everyone in the community happy until the following letter was received from FTB two months later in early March stating: "We have just discovered that this reply (referring to the January 2006 letter) was mailed erroneously, while your request was under review. Accordingly we regret to inform you that we must revoke the letter. We are continuing a review of your request and will send you the final FTB determination as soon as possible."

This letter stunned everyone involved and sparked a lot of criticism from TCA and the industry as a whole. Everyone involved started to take a good hard look at what it would take to have a ruling in effect that would benefit the entire industry and ATF, yet cover the original issues with transferable Thompsons nationwide. The TCA spent many months and a ton of effort in an attempt to bring the issues to closure with little resolve. It was not until several combined energies came together between 2008 and 2010 to assist in bringing the West Hurley issues to conclusion that TCA gained significant traction on this issue. The efforts of John Spencer and Rick Vasquez at FTB, the push from the NFATCA through board member Robert Segel, and the final push from now Deputy Assistant Director Teresa Ficaretta made for the success that we have accomplished with accepting the Thompson rulings. After five years and undying efforts, the Thompson Collectors Association had finally gotten the written recognition that it had asked for, received, and then lost, but regained again in 2010.

On June 16, 2010, John Spencer, Branch Chief for the Firearms Technology Branch, wrote the final letter granting the West Hurley Thompsons C&R status. No small victory for both the TCA and the NFATCA in true partnership with ATF. Let it also be known that thanks to the efforts of Teresa Ficaretta we were able to get this issue finalized. She has shown beyond a doubt that true collaboration between the industry and ATF is a reality. We thank her for her gallant efforts on pushing this issue to closure.

This mission is complete and Thompson owners nationwide should be proud to know that West Hurley's are now recognized as Curio and Relic NFA items. The NFATCA offers its congratulations to the TCA for their efforts in pushing this forward. As a member organization of the NFATCA this effort represented the first success in our organizations working together to accomplish a major initiative for the industry.

All NFA owners should recognize that this journey was a long one but definitely the result of ATF and the industry working together for success. So if you are still wondering what the NFATCA has done for you lately keep following our articles. Next month will yield yet another accomplishment in our quest for ATF industry success stories. Come join us today at www.nfatca.org.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V14N4 (January 2011)
and was posted online on November 1, 2011


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