N.C. Sheriff William Schatzman Swaps Capone-Era Tommy Guns For AR-15s

Faced with the expense of rearming his deputies with new weapons, a North Carolina sheriff managed to turn two dusty old vault finds into dozens of brand-new AR-15 rifles.

"We were disposing of all types of equipment in preparation for a move, when we found these weapons in our vault," Forsyth County sheriff William Schatzman told The Huffington Post. "We did some research and found out they were very valuable."

The weapons, Schatzman said, were two vintage Thompson submachine guns, commonly known as "Tommy guns." The sheriff said the weapons had been out of service for about 50 years.

Made in 1928, the fully functioning automatic weapons had been donated to the sheriff's department by the RJ Reynolds tobacco company in the 1930s.

"They are [the same type of] weaponry once used by Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde and FBI," Schatzman said.

The sheriff's department, which is made up of about 500 officers, who protect some 350,000 residents, was cash-strapped and in desperate need of new weapons. Schatzman said he decided to solve the problem by selling the two guns.

"We [cleared it with] the ATF and offered them up to our law enforcement licensed suppliers of weaponry. They bid on them and the winning bid was $60,000," Schatzman said.

The sheriff pushed for a trade, rather than cash and ultimately netted 88 new Bushmaster AR-15 rifles. But that's not all, he also managed to get dozens of Glock .45-caliber magazines and other parts in exchange for 14 Smith & Wesson revolvers that were also collecting dust in the Forsyth County armory.

"We were able to get equipment we needed, instead of destroying [something of] value to a collector," Schatzman said.

The weapons, the sheriff added, also proved to be of great value to local citizens, who were ultimately saved a great deal of expense.

"This was an opportunity to save tax payers here some money, so we jumped on it," Schatzman said. "Anytime we can be more efficient we do that."

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