September 15, 2014
By Robert W. Hunnicutt
Paul Allen is the less well-known founder of Microsoft, and has used his billions to buy, among other things, the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers. He's an avid yachtsman, and at one point owned or had owned multiple entries in Power and Motor Yacht magazine's list of the world's longest yachts.
He is also an avid collector of military vehicles, which is something all SGN readers would heartily approve if that weren't contrasted with his support of the Washington State Initiative 594, which would impose a universal background check system and 10-day waiting period on all gun purchases. Allen has chipped in $500,000 to support the initiative, supporting his old Microsoft partner, Bill Gates, who came in with a full million.
Allen's interest in classic military vehicles came to light when one of his companies, Vulcan Warbirds, filed suit against the Collings Foundation over possession of a Pz.Kpfw. IV tank valued at $2.5 million. The Pz.Kpfw. IV, often referred to as the Panzer IV, was the most common German tank of the war, and the only one made continuously during the conflict.
It was part of the fabled Jacques Littlefield military vehicle collection that was auctioned off last summer for the benefit of the Collings Foundation, which maintains and operates historical planes and vehicles. Allen bought a Soviet self-propelled gun and a Scud missile at the sale, and those were delivered without incident.
That the rich expect to have their guns and tanks and planes while barring the rest of us from them is no great shock. It is standard procedure in the rest of the world, where the very wealthy are often avid collectors while their countrymen are restricted to tear gas pistols or no guns at all.
The late Tom Siatos, a longtime executive at Petersen Publishing Co. and regular columnist in Guns & Ammo, was having a few belts at a Los Angles Safari Club Int'l gathering when he encountered Los Angeles Times publisher Otis Chandler, who enjoyed numerous Africa safaris.
Why, Siatos asked, was the Times reliably anti-gun when its publisher owned and used hundreds of them? "Oh, Tom," Chandler replied, "we'll always have our guns." And tanks, too, it seems.