During the effor to pass the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act Representative William Hughes (
DGun-ban, NJ) tacked on an amendment that prohibited any new full-auto weapons to enter the civilian market following enaction of the law.
As a practical matter, this didn’t make any difference where criminal use is concerned, but it did have two interesting effects. First, manufacturers scrambled to make and register as many new full-auto receivers as they could before the ban took effect, and the existing pool of full-auto weapons suddenly skyrocketed in value. The result was that, essentially overnight, the pool of civilian possessable full-auto weapons doubled. And a lot of people who didn’t want one before, did now. Economics 101 – supply and demand.
Now, I’m not really a full-auto fan myself. They’re a lot of fun, but horrendously expensive to shoot much (and if you shoot a full-auto, any range time qualifies as “much.”) I’ve always wanted a classic Thompson, though. The Tommy-gun has always seemed a beautiful weapon. The original 1928 model, deeply blued, with a 50-round drum:
is a piece of art. And priced like it.
I wouldn’t pass up a belt-fed, either, and for that my tastes run toward the H&K MG3, which was an updated and rechambered MG-42 of WWII vintage. Instead of the original 8×57 round of the MG42, the MG3 fired the standard NATO 7.62×51 (.308) round – at 1200 rounds per minute. That’s a sound that has been described as “God tearing phonebooks.” Here’s one:
These go for in the neighborhood of $8k and up now.
But my real interest in a full-auto weapon is modern. I’m a science-fiction fan, and I like to watch Stargate SG-1. In recent seasons the stars have been carrying the Fabrique Nationale (FN) P90 submachinegun – this little beastie:
FN doesn’t sell this gun for civilian use anyway (damnit) but it looks so futuristic I’d really like to have one. It fires an specially designed 5.7x28mm cartridge and the factory round is a 31 grain FMJ with a steel penetrator and aluminum core at 900 rounds per minute. The small diameter (.22 caliber), steel penetrator, and very forward center of gravity allow the projectile to penetrate ballistic armor very well, yet still upset and tumble in the target. It does not, however, fragment well. Expensive, though – FN claims the price per round in 1,000 round lots at about $0.41. OUCH! Magazine capacity is 50. The magazine is perhaps the most unique thing about this unique firearm – it rides on top of the firearm and carries the rounds perpendicular to the axis of the bore. It’s not remarkably expensive, either. According to the FN site they sell for $1,350.
However, with the double-whammy of the Hughes Amendment and the fact that FN doesn’t sell that weapon on the civilian market, I’ll never get one it seems.
(Edited @13:30 to correct the Lautenberg/Hughes amendment error. Specifics of this legislation can be found here and here. I’ve got no excuse – I’m currently reading the last cite. Thanks to Publicola for setting me straight on that one.)