Machine gun dealer does business at a brisk clip
BY JUDY L. THOMAS
Knight Ridder Newspapers
FAYETTE, Mo. - In just four years, Jeff and John Overstreet went from running a print shop to renting out machine guns to blaze away on their shooting range.
"Most people don't realize it's legal," said Jeff Overstreet, whose company, CMMG Inc., also manufactures and sells semiautomatic assault weapons and accessories.
CMMG, which stands for Central Missouri Machine Guns, is a frequent vendor at gun shows, setting up displays at 25 to 30 shows a year around Missouri. Its inventory of assault weapons is impressive.
One commemorates firefighters who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. And the odd-looking PS90 is a civilian version of a weapon used by the Secret Service.
Although CMMG sells primarily to civilians, Overstreet said, it also does business with law enforcement agencies, the military and private contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq. It operates out of a nondescript building several miles outside Fayette.
"We take our business very, very seriously," Overstreet said. "When we applied for our federal license, everyone had to be fingerprinted and have their mug shots taken and the sheriff had to be notified. Then we all had to pass a federal background check."
Among CMMG's 20 machine gun models - available for rent only at their Fayette range - are the military M-16 and the MP5SD, which is used by law enforcement and counterterrorism agencies worldwide.
Before shooting the weapons, a person must sign a waiver and undergo a background check, Overstreet said.
His prices are $10 for a 30-round magazine, a bargain compared with what you would pay in Las Vegas, where similar enterprises charge $1 a round.
Still, it only takes about four seconds to empty a magazine. But some gun enthusiasts say it is worth the money.
"It can be fun, but it's harder to hit things than you think," said Kevin Jamison of the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance.
CMMG allows people to rent machine guns only during regular "shoots," which are usually held every month or two. Overstreet said the shoots draw from 80 to 150 people.
The company also sponsors competitions, such as the "Midwest 3-Gun Championships" coming up April 29 and 30. Prizes total in the thousands of dollars, and participants come from across the United States.
Renting is one thing, but buying a machine gun can be a major undertaking, Overstreet said.
"They're all subject to a very extensive federal background check," he said. "It usually takes about six months."
Machine guns also are not cheap. Overstreet noted that when the federal government started regulating machine guns in the gangster era of the 1930s, you could purchase one for $175.
Today, civilians can legally buy only machine guns made before 1986. Even an old M-16 can cost $7,000 to $15,000.
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