As the bullets fly and the bodies pile up, police in a dozen states are required to put the very guns they recover back in circulation—maybe to be used in other crimes.
Police in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky are barred from destroying confiscated guns as their counterparts in the rest of the country routinely do.
The New York City Police Department melts the thousands of guns it recovers into everything from manhole covers to coat hangers, while police in the disgraceful dozen are required by statute to sell them.
These same laws defeat the purpose of gun buyback programs such as those Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) is seeking to bankroll with the proposed Buyback our Safety Act. The Arizona Daily Star notes that City Councilman Steven Kozachik of Tucson had a run-in with state law when he held a buyback in 2013, collecting thousands of weapons in a police station parking lot in exchange for $50 certificates to a grocery store. The Arizona state legislature immediately passed a measure stating that any weapons acquired in such programs had to then be sold to a dealer rather than be destroyed.
Kentucky has similar statutes, as Louisville investor Steve Bass discovered when he proposed a gun buyback program there in 2012. Louisville Insight reported that he was informed it would be a violation of state law.
“I wanted to do something; you can’t, it’s the law,” Bass told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “It’s craziness.”
He reported that gun violence in Louisville has only grown worse in recent months, following COVID-19 as another kind of public health threat.
“We’re having a total epidemic,” he said.
As of June, Louisville reported 90 homicides this year, up from 53 during the same period in 2020.
And unless the serial number is defaced, even murder weapons in Kentucky are auctioned to gun dealers once they are no longer needed as evidence. The loved ones of the victim in a gun homicide where the weapon is recovered and the killer is convicted are left with the knowledge that the gun is again out there. A cops who risks all to recover a gun cannot seek comfort in thinking that it will not endanger anybody ever again.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky State Police (KSP) are holding a virtual “Confiscated Gun Sale” on July 12. The website notes:
“DUE TO COVID-19 (CORONA VIRUS) CONCERN: THE WEAPONS AUCTION FOR JULY 12, 2021 WILL BE CONDUCTED IN A VIRTUAL BID FORMAT.”
The “July 12 KSP Firearms Auction List” shows that 1,008 guns will be available to the highest bidder. And because the great majority of the weapons figured in a crime, the list affords some insight into which instruments of death are favored by law breakers. Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistols appear to be the most popular.
Along with the list, the website offers a 16-minute video preview of the auction offerings.
“Hello, this is the July 2021 Kentucky State Police Firearms Auction,” Keith Cox of the KSP Supply Branch says. “I'm going to walk through and let you look at some of these guns. Anyway, here we go.”
The guns are hanging by their trigger guards in rows on long metal rods. The camera goes with him as he walks up one side of a row and down the other, the muzzles all pointing away from the lens, then directly into it. No doubt innocents who have had one of these guns pointed at them will forever remember that black round hole at the end of the barrel. Some victims will never see anything else. And because the bidders are all licensed dealers, they will then look to sell any purchase as did a dealer who bought a revolver at an auction in 2014 that a teenager subsequently used to stick up a Domino’s Pizza. It was auctioned again in 2018 for $50.
In the video, Keith now pauses by a large semi-automatic pistol.
“There’s a big guy there,” he says.
He then examines another weapon with a paper tag marked 402, which corresponds to an IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) 10mm pistol on the list.
“That’s an Israeli gun,” Keith says. “Kind of a unique gun.”
He continues on to the cheap Saturday night specials, which were the top sellers in America prior to the advent of the pricey semi-automatics such as the Glocks.
“You pretty much know what you’re going to get there,” he says. “You can see there’s certainly nothing spectacular about anything in here. However there’s some affordable guns for folks that don’t want to spend a lot of money... You know the drill.”
He continues on to the long guns, which included a number of assault rifles.
“Remember, that the guns are sold as is,” he says. “You are bidding on used guns. None of these would be considered new. So take that into account.”
He adds in summation, “Nothing special that I can see that really stands out… Average bunch of guns.”
The Tucson Police Department destroyed the guns it recovered until it was ordered to stop by the Arizona Supreme Court in 2017. The court also ruled that if the department held a buyback, it could not destroy any guns it collected, as is the practice in all such programs. The court said those guns also had to be sold to dealers.
In April, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a new “Second Amendment Sanctuary City Law,” ordering local governments to ignore federal gun regulations in favor of state provisions. Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and the city council responded on June 22 with a resolution pledging to continue observing federal gun laws.
But the state Supreme Court ruling on sales still stands, and to that end Tucson police now use Sierra Auction to sell guns. Sierra also has a big firearms auction on July 12, including two Glock 23s with extended magazines. That is the gun that was used to shoot former Arizona U.S. Rep Gabby Giffords and 18 others just outside Tucson in 2007.
The early online bidding on the Glocks has started at $210 and $160.