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Tommy_Gunss Webcam Whilst the iconic Thompson submachine gun revolutionized modern warfare and became a symbol of Chicago mob activity during its 1920s heyday, its exact creation remains a mystery – as does why such an effective icon became such a part of American popular culture?

John T. Thompson founded the Auto-Ordnance Company with a plan to develop an automatic weapon capable of filling a ballistic class between pistol and rifle. At the close of World War I, military planners desperately searched for ways to break through battlefield stagnation – turning instead to technologies such as tanks and aerial bombardment.

But the Thompson era soon came to an end. By 1934, Americans had rebelled against easy access to military-grade firepower and passed legislation regulating machine gun ownership – partially due to bloody gang warfare but also outrage over President Franklin D. Roosevelt being attempted assassinated that year.

Matt Fratus is a staff writer for Coffee or Die and host of the Late Night History podcast, known for unearthing fascinating historical tales and sharing them. With more than 25 years of writing history-themed pieces for print and online publications such as the Washington Post, Salon Daily Beast Vice and Vice, as well as winning several awards; Matt lives in Seattle with his wife and two cats; you can follow him on Twitter at @MattFratus for updates!