WWI artifact connected to Sgt. York in danger of being destroyed

A WWI German machine gun that was purportedly confiscated by Sergeant Alvin York when he and seven other doughboys captured 132 enemy soldiers has caused a conundrum for the library that recently discovered the historic weapon in an attic. The Nahant library in Massachusetts had hoped to use the artifact to raise money to expand the facility, but the fact that the gun was never registered with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is preventing it from being offered for sale (with estimated value of at least $100,000) .

Adding to the problem is that under current law, automatic weapons such as the German machine gun can no longer be registered or even possessed by the library. The ATF’s initial recommendation was to destroy the gun. Fortunately, the gun is now being held by the local police who have expressed a desire to try to save it.

The town of Nahant is attempting to overcome the obstacles to get the gun registered by reaching out to Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and John Kerry (D-MA) for help, but neither has yet bothered to respond – perhaps due to their strong anti-gun positions. However, Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) deserves credit for looking into the options to preserve the weapon.

What is truly frustrating is the ATF’s apparent ignorance of the gun’s historic significance. As reported in Lynn MA’s “The Daily Item” (registration required), the ATF agent first assigned to the case has admitted to not being familiar with either the legendary Sgt. York or, astonishingly, WWI. It seems that all too often, government officials that have neither the knowledge nor appreciation of the contributions of America’s fighting force make decisions on the issues important to veterans and their legacy.

Explore posts in the same categories: History, Policy

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