House Republican Thomas Massie, of Kentucky, published something of a virtual Christmas card on Twitter earlier this month, featuring a tinsel-wrapped tree, a smiling family and seven very powerful guns. “Merry Christmas,” the congressman captioned the picture. “P.S. Santa, please bring ammo.”
In the stream of comments that followed, lots of people focused on the amount of firepower involved, but few noted the amount of money on display. It’s hard to pinpoint exact values of all the weapons—similar-looking guns might come from different manufacturers, specifications vary and iconic weapons inspire imitations—but there’s no question that they’re worth a lot. After reviewing online gun marketplaces and talking with two firearms experts, Forbes believes Massie’s photo probably features $20,000 to $190,000 worth of firearms.
That’s a significant amount of money for the lawmaker. Excluding his family farm that’s worth more than $1 million, Massie reported less than $165,000 of assets on his most-recent financial disclosure form, which does not require members to list all their personal property, like guns. “This is a wannabe Soldier of Fortune dream collection,” said Ryan Busse, a former executive at a weapons-manufacturer whose recent book, Gunfight, takes aim at his old industry.
The biggest firearm in the photo, an M60 machine gun, rests in the congressman’s hands. A semiautomatic, civilian version of that weapon costs about $17,000, according to Chris Mijic, the editor of FirearmsGuide.com. But a fully automatic, military edition could go for roughly $70,000.
A Kentucky gentleman, Massie gave another prized weapon to his wife, Rhonda. Cradled in her arms is a Thompson submachine gun. “That gun (a favorite of Al Capone) is the gun that spurred the 1934 NFA (National Firearms Act), which essentially tightly controlled fully auto guns,” Busse explained in an email. “That law is a target of the furthest-right gun-rights groups. (Yes, they want fully auto machine guns legal for all).” Mijic said that if it’s an original, fully automatic Thompson, it’s probably worth around $43,000. If it’s a modern, semiautomatic replica, then he figures it’s valued at $2,200.
Nestled between Massie and his wife sits a younger woman, holding an Uzi. It’s theoretically possible that the gun is a semiautomatic version made from a kit, which make it worth about $1,000, but Mijic thinks it’s more valuable than that. “To be semi-auto and legal, it has to have a 16-inch barrel,” he explained. “The one on the picture has a very short barrel, so it is more probable that is a real, fully auto submachine gun.” If so, it should be worth about $20,000. “Legal to own but you have to have a high-grade gun permit,” adds Mijic.
The gun shown in the top left could be a Hackler & Koch G3, valued at around $34,000. But it also could be an imitation of that German battle rifle and worth closer to $2,000. The other three firearms are likely worth between $900 and $7,000 each.
Despite proudly publishing the photo of the cache, Massie wouldn’t respond to inquiries on it or say what his arsenal is worth. It’s theoretically possible that he borrowed all the weapons from a friend. But if they’re his, the guns would constitute a significant holding for the Kentucky congressman, who earns $174,000 a year on Capitol Hill. No wonder he’s asking Santa for a little help with the ammo.