Goodness grief: 21 H&K MP5s stolen from the Los Angeles PD

Unlike almost every other news story that mistakenly reports a “machine gun” was involved with some sort of crime, these guns really are machine guns; submachine guns to be specific. LAPD housed these weapons in a facility with no alarms or security cameras.

From CBS Los Angeles.

The 21 MP-5 submachine guns and a dozen Colt 45 automatic [sic] pistols were taken from a locked container inside the Kennedy Building on San Pedro Street, police officials said.

The location — which formerly housed clothing firms before it was donated to the LAPD several years ago — is considered a secure site, Deputy Chief Michael Downing told the Associated Press.

While the weapons had been modified to fire training ammunition, the concern is that they could easily be converted back to fire live rounds.

The Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun shoots 9mm rounds, and depending on the trigger group, can send one round , two or three round bursts, or go full auto. These MP5s had full auto capability as I understand it, but they were configured to shoot simunitions, which are non-lethal training rounds. LAPD is suggesting it would be a “significant” issue to modify them to fire live rounds.

“These guns can’t be used with regular ammunition unless they’re significantly modified back,” said LAPD Commander Andy Smith.

Lower: This is the important part as far as the ATF is concerned.

Here’s the problem as I see it, and I could be totally wrong. Note the images – simply to help with definitions – are from an AR-15, not an MP5.

The MP5 simunition conversion kit involves changing out the complete upper of the rifle. The upper (includes the bolt carrier group and the barrel) is not an NFA item. It does not (generally) have a serial number and you can buy them without a background check.

The lower has the Class 3 trigger group (full auto for the MP5), magazine well and the serial number. The lower is what the BATF considers the “gun” even though you can buy it without the trigger. (Yes, when you are carrying around that lower as pictured, it’s considered “the gun” even though it has no barrel.)

I’m not sure if you can buy the MP5 upper on its own, and I’m not sure if the upper on the MP5 and the civilian varient MP94 carbine utilize the same upper.

Upper: This is the part of the gun that would need to be changed.

But if they are interchangeable, dealers should be watching for parties interesting in buying MP5 or MP94 uppers with no need for the lower. If they can just buy the upper and everything works … they have a full auto carbine.

Most likely along with buying the complete upper, some fitting would be required by a gunsmith. Even with the upper, it would take some skill … easy to put together, but it might not fit right.

Again, keep in mind the LAPD kept these weapons locked in a container, at a facility they describe as “secure” while having no alarm system or security cameras.

Note: The CBS article refers to Colt 45 automatic pistols, which is almost certainly wrong and proves true my first sentence in this article. Most likely, they are 1911 Colt 45 semi-automatic pistols that were converted for simunitions and most certainly are easy to convert by replacing the slide and barrel – again parts that you do not need a background check for.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. winnie on October 19, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Steve, apparently your idea of secure is a bit different from LAPD’s?? I’m sure that whomever is responsible for stealing these weapons knows that they must be modified to be “useful” in the real world.? Unless LAPD advertised that there were no cameras/security in this building, I’m thinking an inside job?? Ya never know.

  2. Benjamin Less on October 19, 2011 at 6:06 am

    Actually there was a patent in 1949 for a full-auto Colt .45 1911? URL on patent below but was never produced.
    As well a 1911 made by Star, model M, is a full auto pistol and very accurate. There are also full auto glocks that are competent and used by SWAT [I think?]. ? Maybe the reporter is speaking about full auto .45 ACP glocks?

    • Steve M on October 19, 2011 at 7:09 am

      The photo in the video shows a standard 1911, .45 caliber. They did not have fully auto pistols.

    • Benjamin Less on October 19, 2011 at 9:43 am

      Oh, sorry.? I did not watch the video or see the weapons before making my comment.? Apologies.

  3. Tim-in-Alabama on October 19, 2011 at 7:42 am

    They weapons were secured. They put a sticky note on the cabinet telling whoever wanted to steal guns to stay out, and to quit opening everyone’s Tupperware in the break room fridge.

  4. Dimsdale on October 19, 2011 at 8:58 am

    And yet, we are told that we can’t be trusted with weapons….

  5. SeeingRed on October 19, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I feel so foolish.? Here I’ve been buying my 1911’s.?

  6. PatRiot on October 19, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    First drugs from the evidence lockers and now this.
    Inside job ? !
    Fast and Furious 2? ?
    Steve – Truely, thanks for the firearms lesson.? An educated populous is our best hope.

    • Dimsdale on October 19, 2011 at 6:24 pm

      And an armed populace is our best defense.

  7. Plainvillian on October 19, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Do you suppose the gangbanger buyers will be surprised??

  8. ricbee on October 19, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    ?What happened to them is the real issue here. Hopefully is just a paperwork problem,because otherwise some cop or cops are crooks.

  9. JollyRoger on October 20, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Your local PD probably has automatic weapons in their armory.? Mine found old 45 cal Tommy guns and God knows what else.? I guess we’re in good hands as long as we pay our taxes:)

    • Dimsdale on October 20, 2011 at 10:40 am

      Well, if they maintain them with the same diligence that they securely store them, you can figure most of them will explode in their hands if they work at all.


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