NRA member George Whitehead, after military service in World War II, moved to Portland, Ore., and started a career with the Portland Police Department, eventually spending 27 years on the force. As a detective following up leads, he frequently visited area gun shops and, in 1969, purchased a Thompson submachine gun from a dealer going through financial hard times. This Model 1921 Thompson, serial number 6040, had been sold by a small police department in the Milwaukee area and was still brand new.
For the next 36 years, that Thompson sat unfired in a safe; in all those years, Whitehead never took this submachine gun to the range and never even disassembled the piece, just carefully cleaned and maintained it. Then, in 2005, he contacted the National Firearms Museum and made arrangements for the piece to be legally transferred. Along with three other modern firearms and a circa 1929 Wibrod bulletproof vest, the Thompson arrived at the Museum later that year. Today it rests proudly in the Modern Law Enforcement display with two drum magazines nearby, still unfired. Whitehead passed away in December 2007, but one of his last comments to a close friend was that he was happy his gun had found a long-term home.
Reprinted from America's 1st Freedom, April 2008.