Key Pages:

13 Things 2009

13 Things 2008

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology

Search Brown



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

“On The Side of Law and Order.” -Motto of the Auto-Ordnance company.


This is a timeline of the Tommy Gun’s history from 1914 to 1944. I attempted to find a balance between what was absolutely necessary and extraneous but interesting or insightful part of the history, although I might’ve gone a tad overboard. (Just a tad!) Although my later discussions lean towards the philosophic rather than the historical nature of the Tommy Gun, I believe the intricacies of the Tommy Gun’s history will help give context to my more general exploration.

Preface: 1914-1917

“’Very well. We shall put aside the rifle for now and instead build a little machine gun. A one-man, hand-held machine gun. A trench broom!’ At once Thomspon rose from his chair and sprayed the room with imaginary bullets; he fired from the hip, like a movie gangster of the future.” (Helmer 1969 p. 25)

Development and Production: 1917-1921

The Sales Pitch: 1921-1922

“On The Side of Law and Order:” 1922-1936

World War II: 1938-1945

"I have given my valedictory to arms, as I want to pay more attention now to saving human life than destroying it. May the deadly T.S.M.G. always 'speak for' God & Country. It has worried me that the gun has been so stolen by evil men & used for purposes outside our motto, 'On the side of law & order'...." (Helmer 179)

Note: Pretty much everything here besides my personal comments are from William Helmer's The Gun That Made the Twenties Roar. (1969)

From here, you can go to any of the three discussions. I recommend the following order:

Continuous Violence: Limitations, Adoption and Context

Social Acceptability: How Does Society React To Unqualified Violence?

Media: The Tommy Gun in Film