Confiscated guns to be sold by police - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Confiscated guns to be sold by police

A Georgia law that took effect last month requires all law enforcement agencies to sell most of the guns they confiscate to licensed dealers if they can't return them to the lawful owners.

Gwinnett County's Police Department recently sold 62 guns for more than $10,000 and that money goes to the state.

We talked to a number of South Georgia law enforcement agencies about Senate Bill 350, and like many new laws, many of the agencies have different opinions about what this new state law requires and how they will comply with it.

The new Georgia law says that all law enforcement agencies will sell most of their seized or confiscated weapons to the highest bidder among licensed firearm dealers.

"A licensed distributor comes in," said Dougherty County Sheriff's Office Captain Allen Brock. "They view all the guns. And they will give us a price of the lot. Every bit of them."

But the money will go to the state, not the police agencies.

"Everybody is desperate for monies now. So this is a way to generate revenues. I'm all for it," Sheriff Kevin Sproul said.

The gun dealers can then resell those weapons, with all the requirements of usual gun purchases.

"So it goes through the whole background check. All of that, before that firearm goes back on the streets. So it is going back to a lawful owner, another lawful owner," Brock said.

Another requirement of this new law, all guns seized after use in crimes in Georgia are returned to their lawful owners. In the past, many guns seized in crimes or confiscated would just be destroyed.

"I don't know the percentage, but a lot of our weapons used in crimes, they are not used by the legal owners. They are used by the people who break not the cars and homes of these guns owners and taken these weapons out of their possession and go use them in another crime," Sproul said.

The Dougherty District Attorney's office says law enforcement agencies can do three things with confiscated guns that are not returned to lawful owners.

They can keep the gun, for use in ballistic or forensic experiments and training.  They can sell them to the licensed dealers, or they can send them to the GBI, who will sell or destroy them.

The new law aims to make sure confiscated guns are made available for lawful ownership, rather than being needlessly destroyed.

"We want to make sure that if an individual has a legal right to possess a firearm, that all the laws are followed, to insure that they can legally possess it and purchase it,"  Brock said.

And legislators made sure under this new law that the money from the gun sales goes to the state.

Many agencies we talked to, like the Dougherty County Police, said they would let their county or city property management departments take care of the sale of these guns when they have a large enough supply for sale.

None of the South Georgia law enforcement agencies we talked have confiscated enough guns since the law took effect to have a sale yet.

 

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.  

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