You find a crate of Thompson submachine guns in the woods in England...then what?

In the latest issue of American Rifleman magazine, there’s a story about the Thompson guns given to the British as part of the lend-lease program in WWII. It says: “No doubt there are still some crates of Thompsons, in their original packaging, hidden in underground bunkers in the woods throughout England.”

Whether or not this is true - I have no idea if it is - what would happen if someone hiking through the woods found one of these crates?

Let’s assume they report it to the authorities. Then what?

Does the guy who found them just have to hand them over to the government without any compensation, or can he ask for payment of some kind?

Are those guns still the property of the British government?

So the government takes the Tommy guns away. Then what? What do they do with them? Do they just destroy them, grind them up into Brillo pads? Do they put them into a museum? Do they just send them off to some warehouse where they will sit gathering dust for the next 300 years?

They can ask, but possession of those weapons is a crime so they don’t have to do anything but thank them because they’re certainly not going to be able to keep them.

Why wouldn’t they be?

Could be any or all of the above. Mass destruction of older guns, no matter how valuable they may be, is not unheard of.

If you’re asking for actual laws, mind you, I’ve none to give you, but it seems relatively straightforward to me.

The guns are historical relics and, yes, they are quite valuable. Would the government consider selling them to a collector from another country?

Are there people in British society who have enough money and political clout that they don’t “need” to obey the British gun laws? Could someone like that buy them?

I’d presume the bunkers and all contents thereof are still considered military property, so stealing from them would be grounds for prosecution. Besides, if they’re anything like the WW2 bunkers around here they are probably locked down with a padlock lest they become hangouts for drug addicts, so the chance of someone accidentally stumbling over stored equipment seems minimal.

If you report it to the authorities, the guns will be destroyed. Therefore the only logical response is to hide the guns, report the site to the nearest IRA sympathizer, and ask for a couple of the guns to be smuggled to the US as compensation for the “new” armaments.

Wouldn’t know about the UK, but one of my brothers, when he was a teenager, found a WWII cache of ammunitions. They were seized.
(For the record, he and his friends didn’t report it. My father did after having seen my brother with a bullet he had drilled :eek:, and subsequently found many others hidden in the attic. The gendarmes just chastised him.)

As with very nearly anything which find could be to my advantage and which has no personal owner to be hurt by it’s loss, I would cover it up thoughtfully, then return as quickly as possible in an old van to take and hide such treasure in some place to which no-one else has access.
It’s a shame to bother government officials by burdening them with unnecessary paperwork.

“Lend-lease”, right? I think they belong to us Americans.

There are people who think that’s true of them, but no.

Um, no, our gun laws are incredibly strict. And law is law – we’re not some tinpot regime. Do you have people with enough money and political clout to flout laws (particularly when we’re talking about stashing submachine guns)?

You missed the news about what happens in the US in the past dozen decades, did you? If you’re rich, you have clout, and can get away with almost everything in the US.

Those are legal in a lot of US states…

But in disappointingly few UK ones.

Man, a Thompson could be fun, but I’d never be able to afford to use it. Two seconds on the trigger and I’m broke until payday! :smiley:

As I’m taking the crate to the police, it would tragically be lost in a boating accident.

A boating accident somewhere near Nottingham perhaps? :smiley:

You go fox hunting in style.

Seems a shame, in light of grand British tradition.

Perhaps someone can confirm this. I am under the impression that items of historical significance purposely buried are the property of the state whereas items of historical significance that weren’t put there purposely is fair game to whoever finds it (at least on private property). If this were the case then the guns, having been buried on purpose, could not possible belong to whoever found it. Not counting the fact that you can’t own a Thompson in England anyway.

Yeah, because Germany’s track record has been so pristine for the past 120 years.

I very much doubt that there were any Thompsons imported into the UK during the war that weren’t put into service. If there had been, there wouldn’t have been any need for the Sten gun.

I suppose it would depend on what American Rifleman means by “underground bunker”. There would seem to be two possibilities: the first (and most likely to contain a crate of unused firearms) would be a War Office storage facility, but that would either have been sold into private hands since the war (and any weapons removed) or else still be property of the MoD, in which case your hiker’s going to have some serious explaining to do.

The second option is that they’re thinking of the series of small hideouts-cum-arms caches that were secreted at points around the country by specially-trained members of the Home Guard, for use by the resistance in the event of invasion. It is just possible that there may be one or two of these, abandoned and forgotten since the war, but it’s very unlikely that any of them ever had a single Tommy gun in them (those went to the regular army) let alone a whole crate.

Assuming it’s not actually MoD property, and they did (however unlikely) find a forgotten bunker with a crate of machine guns in it, the most likely next step is an urgent visit by the army bomb disposal team. The Thompsons themselves aren’t going to do anything more dangerous than quietly rust at you, but they wouldn’t be there on their own. If it were a resistance arms cache, there would certainly be at least ammunition and grenades, and very likely some demolition charges as well – and all of it sitting unattended in a damp hole in the ground for nearly 70 years.

He’d probably get on the local news, for whatever good that might do him.

I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t be.

If I found this, I’d shut my mouth. Collectors in the USA are paying $2000-$7000 apiece for WWII-era TSMGs!

Well you’d have to smuggle them out of the country - good luck with the scanners at the airport.