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Old March 14, 2010, 10:48 AM   #1
M4Sherman
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PD selling confiscated guns a problem

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WASHINGTON (March 14) - Two guns used in high-profile shootings this year at the Pentagon and a Las Vegas courthouse both came from the same unlikely place: the police and court system of Memphis, Tenn.

Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that both guns were once seized in criminal cases in Memphis. The officials described how the weapons made their separate ways from an evidence vault to gun dealers and to the shooters.

The use of guns that once were in police custody and were later involved in attacks on police officers highlights a little-known divide in gun policy in the United States: Many cities and states destroy guns gathered in criminal probes, but others sell or trade the weapons in order to get other guns or buy equipment such as bulletproof vests.

In fact, on the day of the Pentagon shooting, March 4, the Tennessee governor signed legislation revising state law on confiscated guns. Before, law enforcement agencies in the state had the option of destroying a gun. Under the new version, agencies can only destroy a gun if it's inoperable or unsafe.

Kentucky has a similar law, but it's not clear how many other states have laws specifically designed to promote the police sale or trade of confiscated weapons.

A nationwide review by The Associated Press in December found that over the previous two years, 24 states - mostly in the South and West, where gun-rights advocates are particularly strong - have passed 47 new laws loosening gun restrictions. Gun rights groups are making a greater effort to pass favorable legislation in state capitals.

John Timoney, who led the Philadelphia and Miami police departments and served as New York's No. 2 police official, said he doesn't believe police departments should be putting more guns into the market.

"I just think it's unseemly for police departments to be selling guns that later turn up," he said, recalling that he had once been offered the chance to sell guns to raise money for the police budget.

"Obviously, we always need the money but I just said, 'No, we will take the loss and get rid of the guns'," said the former police chief, who now works for Andrews International, a security consulting firm.

One of the weapons in the Pentagon attack was seized by Memphis police in 2005 and later traded to a gun dealer; the gun used in the Jan. 4 courthouse shooting in Las Vegas as sold by a judge's order and the proceeds given to the Memphis-area sheriff's office. Neither weapon was sold by the Memphis law enforcement agencies directly to the men who later used them to shoot officers.

In both cases, the weapons first went to licensed gun dealers, but later came into the hands of men who were legally barred from possessing them: one a convicted felon; the other mentally ill.

The history of the two guns in the recent attacks was described by officials from multiple law enforcement agencies on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the investigations. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives provided reports on the gun traces to the investigating agencies, but is barred from publicly disclosing the results.

At the Pentagon, gunman John Patrick Bedell carried two 9 mm handguns, one of them a Ruger.

Law enforcement officials say Bedell, a man with a history of severe psychiatric problems, had been sent a letter by California authorities Jan. 10 telling him he was prohibited from buying a gun because of his mental history.

Nineteen days later, the officials say, Bedell bought the Ruger at a gun show in Las Vegas. Such a sale by a private individual does not require the kind of background check that would have stopped Bedell's purchase.

Mike Campbell, an ATF spokesman in Washington, would not confirm the details. He would only say Bedell "appears to have purchased the gun from a private seller."

The gun already had changed hands among gun dealers in Georgia and Pennsylvania by the time Bedell bought it. Officer Karen Rudolph, a Memphis police spokeswoman, said her department traded the weapon to a dealer in 2008 for a different gun that was better for police work. Rudolph said gun swaps are a way to save taxpayer money.

The Ruger had sat in Memphis police storage for years at that point, after being confiscated from a convicted felon at a 2005 traffic stop.

The trail of the gun used at the Las Vegas federal courthouse is older and harder to pin down. Johnny Lee Wicks, an elderly man enraged over cuts to his Social Security benefits, opened fire with the shotgun at the security entrance to the courthouse. He killed one officer, Stanley Cooper, and wounded another.

Wicks, like Bedell at the Pentagon, was killed by officers' return fire.

Before that courthouse attack, what records exist suggest officers in Memphis confiscated that gun in 1998.

A judge in Memphis ordered the sale of the shotgun as part of a criminal case, and the proceeds of that sale went to the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, confirmed sheriff's spokesman Steve Shular.

He said the gun dealer who bought it later sold the weapon to a dealer in Nevada. It is not clear how Wicks got the shotgun.

Rich Wyatt, a former police chief in Alma, Colo., who now operates a gun store - and who has bought weapons from police agencies - defended the practice of police selling guns.

"Maybe if they put the money they made selling the guns into training those officers better, they'd be better off," said Wyatt. "Nobody ever, ever questions selling a car that was used in a crime. I am sad that officers were shot, but I don't care where the guns came from. To say we need to chase guns is not the issue, we need to chase people."
(From AOL)

Alright first off I am glad to see that more news agencies are giving more than one perspective on gun issues this year.

Now for my take on the issue that was brought up. I do not see an issue selling confiscated guns or the buildings or vehicles From a crack house or meth LAB (pot farms different) since they can only be sold to a FFL for guns or put on the auction block for other crap.

I have bought two boxes of cheap guns from my dealer that came for hardemen county PD that have amazingly have not been used in a new crime.

ahh I guess they will find something to whine about.
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Old March 14, 2010, 11:09 AM   #2
natjohnb
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Quote:
In both cases, the weapons first went to licensed gun dealers, but later came into the hands of men who were legally barred from possessing them: one a convicted felon; the other mentally ill.
This little tidbit, hidden in the middle, should make the rest of the article a mute point.

If they were obtained illegally, they need to expose where the illegal sale happened. The fact that these were once police confiscated, and then resold LEGALLY, has no bearing on anything.
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Old March 14, 2010, 02:14 PM   #3
maestro pistolero
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On that note, we should halt, immediately, the sale at auction of any car truck or van that was ever used in a vehicular manslaughter. We simply can't allow these tainted vehicles back on our streets to continue wreaking havoc in society. They must be destroyed.

Similarly, we must begin razing to the ground any home in which a murder has been committed.
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Old March 14, 2010, 02:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natjohnb
"...If they were obtained illegally, they need to expose where the illegal sale happened. The fact that these were once police confiscated, and then resold LEGALLY, has no bearing on anything."
Depends on how far back you want to extend a logic chain.

You probably don't want to go down that path... ("Danger Will Robinson"...)

If I'm at a gun show, and I've brought my Ruger 9mm with me to give it a bit of fresh air, and a nicely dressed middle-aged guy approaches me and offers to buy it, and we agree on a price, and I've no reason to suspect that this individual is either a felon or mentally ill, AND I am under no legal obligation to conduct any sort of Brady Insta-Check because I am a private seller -- guess what? My Ruger 9mm will become his Ruger 9mm.

(Under those circumstances you're not likely to inquire "Say, I hope you're not an ex-con or someone who is mentally ill, are you?" And even if you were willing to inquire, if the guy replied "Hell no, I'm insulted that you would accuse me of being willing to break the law" you would logically have no way of knowing whether he was telling the truth or not anyway...)

The crux of the matter is that we are perilously close to losing the right to sell firearms as private citizens.

A gun sale between two private parties may either be a perfectly legal sale if the seller has no reason to suspect the bona fides of the buyer; or an illegal sale if the buyer knows that they are not allowed to purchase a firearm, but does so anyway (from an unsuspecting seller).

IMHO, that concern is insufficient to outlaw the private sale of firearms, either at gunshows or anywhere else in the U.S.

YMMV.
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Old March 14, 2010, 02:57 PM   #5
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The crux of the matter is that we are perilously close to losing the right to sell firearms as private citizens.
And that's just what the hoplophobes want; that is the end game, the ultimate objective.

In other words, WE, as private citizens are too stupid and inept to handle the transfer of guns.

Never mind that the people who purchased these firearms ARE ALREADY PROHIBITED, BY LAW, from possessing firearms. Hey--they bought them anyway! So, I guess, these people want more useless laws passed to further restrict the law abiding citizens.

Articles like this make me want to vomit violently. Instead of keeping these people off the streets, they turn them loose through a revolving door and wonder why the crime rate is so high. :barf:
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Old March 14, 2010, 07:38 PM   #6
johnwilliamson062
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Under those circumstances you're not likely to inquire "Say, I hope you're not an ex-con or someone who is mentally ill, are you?" And even if you were willing to inquire, if the guy replied "Hell no, I'm insulted that you would accuse me of being willing to break the law" you would logically have no way of knowing whether he was telling the truth or not anyway...
Actually I do a lot of FTF trading with strangers and this question is almost always asked in some form. 'You can legally own a firearm right?' being the norm. It isn't abnormal for someone to ask me if the gun is "hot" or similar before they buy it. If I have an ill feeling I usually warn the person I will be calling a friend who works for the police to check on it once I leave to see if their reaction. One a couple of occasions I have and one occasion the seller claimed someone just picked the gun up and it was no longer for sale.

People legally selling firearms generally don't want the trouble of an illegal gun, even if they are dodging any sort of registration thing they fear, which some certainly are. They just want to legally purchase a firearm and know gov't agents won't knock on their door looking for it.
I mostly want deals. I specialize in making other peoples house payments
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Old March 14, 2010, 10:10 PM   #7
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I've sold numerous guns, both handguns and long guns FTF here in Idaho.
I've always asked the top 3 questions for gun ownership before making a completed exchange.
1) Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
2) Are you over 21?
3)Is there any reason that you can't own a firearm?
For me, it's nothing more than a case of CYA. I'd feel guilty and terrible if any gun I've ever sold was used in a crime and I found out about it.

I actually had the situation happen once where somebody I was planning to sell a gun to did have a Felony on his record and I didn't know it at first.
I asked him "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" and without even thinking about his answer, he simply said yes. End of transaction.
He said that nobody had ever asked him that question before, and without even thinking, he answered quickly and honestly. I caught him off-guard and saved myself the problems that could have happend with that transaction.

I think all of us need to be responsible gun owners, sellers & traders whenever we transfer a firearm from our control. It has nothing to do with Brady, or the 2nd amendment, it's just the right thing to do.
By acting responsibly and treating every transaction with this level of seriousness we'll hear much less from the anti-gun activists out there.
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Old March 14, 2010, 10:24 PM   #8
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Here's the situation... you sell 4,000 guns to dealers, and 2 end up sold to someone where they were in the wrong hands. What's the percentage of that ? .05 of 1%. What about the other 3,998 guns ? They never keep it in perspective.

Nor do they point out the number of illegal guns out there, kept by people who aren't law-abiding citizens and who didn't get them legally. Get onto them, and leave the law-abiding folks alone.
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Old March 15, 2010, 08:52 AM   #9
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I would rather get rid of permits to carry or licensing and have a background check for every sale instead. I think that not having the hassles of getting and renewing a permit/license, and the peace of mind knowing that you didn't sell a gun to someone that should not have one, would make having to place a phone call for a NICS check a non-issue.
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Old March 15, 2010, 10:09 AM   #10
natjohnb
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I may be in the minority here, but I am too paranoid to take someone at their word in a FTF private sale.

I will only sell FTF to someone I know or to a dealer. At the very least I would have to see a valid carry permit.

I am all for more freedoms and less restrictions, but we (speaking for myself anyway) need to be responsible with those freedoms. I don't want a felon or a nutcase getting a pistol because I believed them when they said they were legal to purchase.

YMMV

Last edited by natjohnb; March 15, 2010 at 10:12 AM. Reason: typo
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Old March 15, 2010, 12:17 PM   #11
johnwilliamson062
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I buy/sell a lot of things FTF. Cars, sports equipment, tools, etc.
Many of them could easily be used to harm someone.
Am I going to feel bad if someone smashes in his wifes head with a 9 iron I sold him? Hell no. How am I supposed to know that is going to happen.
If he shows up and says something about how his wife is "acting up" and a 9 iron will set her straight, then yeah I have a responsibility to tell him to look elsewhere.I should probably even call the police, but I know realistically there isn't much they can really do, especially since the guy is probably not from my city and all I have is maybe a name and phone number.

Guns aren't magical, especially handguns. They are just relatively easy to operate and allow you to stand back a few extra feet.
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Old March 15, 2010, 02:25 PM   #12
maestro pistolero
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In Nevada it is not required, but suggested that you call the local PD with the identity of someone to whom you are about to sell a gun. Without any divulging of any private info, they will give you a yay, or nay. This is what I do.
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Old March 15, 2010, 04:45 PM   #13
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I've never sold a firearm, but I imagine if I did I would ask to see a Firearms License (as they are called here in GA) before selling it. Yes I know that might cut my prospective buyers in half, but it would also cover my hide.
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Old March 15, 2010, 04:52 PM   #14
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FTF transactions are fine, the best thing I have found for a FTF sell is:

ftp://texasguntrader.com/billofsale.pdf

Just save it, print two copies, and fill them both out.
Quick, easy, and protects you and the buyer/seller.

Everyone I have FTF with has honored the request to sign the document, and several have thanked me.

It is ultimately up to you to be able to provide a trail for weapons you have or have had in your possession.

JMO of course.
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Old March 15, 2010, 05:30 PM   #15
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I was most likely living in Memphis, TN when these guns were sold by the PD. I have NO PROBLEM with the MPD selling properly seized property; MPD has a lot to deal with & surely needs the money or usable assets that could be aquired by disposing of such seized property.

MPD didn't unload a slab of seized crack that couldn't be put to a legal purpose; they transferred perfectly legal items that can serve a useful & legal purpose in this society. Some idiots misused those items.
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Old March 17, 2010, 10:42 AM   #16
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I dont think auto seized from drug houses should be sold as they may be used in bank robberies ao drived by someone under the influence of something!!
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Old March 17, 2010, 11:21 AM   #17
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I dont think auto seized from drug houses should be sold as they may be used in bank robberies ao drived by someone under the influence of something!!
If they had a full auto, transferable weapon that was to be sold after being seized, it would be no different than any other NFA weapon sold. I guess you think the dealer got a box of goods and said 'yippe I got a full auto!', hardly.
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Old March 17, 2010, 12:26 PM   #18
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^^^^ I think he may have meant "auto" as in automobile/car. He mentioned something about driving it.
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Old March 17, 2010, 03:35 PM   #19
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What surprises me with the story is "how can the PD sell guns that possibly where stolen at some point"? Does being seized by the PD automatically end the title of a previous owner? Or can my legally purchased gun suddenly show up on a list of stolen guns when grandpa reports it stolen 3 years after it was confiscated from his grand kid? I'd want a "gun fax".
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Old March 17, 2010, 11:43 PM   #20
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I'm with you, if the guns were stolen and then confiscated, the previous owner should get it back. Then sell the rest and scrap the junk.

I may be in a minority, but just how tough is it to require a NICS check at a gun show? Up here, many shows are club shows, only members may purchase and membership comes with a NICS check. At other shows, I've seen an FFL dealer in a row of tables handling NICS calls for the private tables in his row, not a problem and no delays. I'll agree with anyone that private sales are private sales, but when you rent a table at a show and lay out your wares, you are dealing in firearms in should at least run a NICS check on purchasers.
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Old March 18, 2010, 12:29 AM   #21
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Quote:
Does being seized by the PD automatically end the title of a previous owner? Or can my legally purchased gun suddenly show up on a list of stolen guns when grandpa reports it stolen 3 years after it was confiscated from his grand kid? I'd want a "gun fax".
A lot of them might not be traceable to their former owners. Maybe the people who had them lost/stolen didn't record the serial number, or didn't properly file a report, or the gun traveled beyond the range of that report.
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Old March 18, 2010, 10:23 AM   #22
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When I do private sales, I always do a bill of sale and look at the permit to purchase (Free, but required for handguns in MN), permit to carry (Not free, but also acts as your permit to purchase so you don't have to go through the hassle every time... plus it obviously allows you to legally carry), and driver's license.

If they don't have both a driver's license and a permit to purchase or carry, they don't get the gun.

If they exhibit suspicious behavior, I would also deny the sale, but so far I haven't had any problems.
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Old March 18, 2010, 11:05 AM   #23
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Police departments go through a lengthly procedure when any firearm is recovered before final disposal. (NOTE WELL: This is what a "normal" Department does; departments in REALLY gun-unfriendly jurisdictions, like CA or IL do not qualify, unfortunately.)

All departments run the firearms through the Triple I (III) database. If your gun is stolen, AND a report has been filed, AND the firearm has been entered into the system, it never, EVER goes off the system unless it is recovered. When the gun is recovered, every effort is made to re-unite the gun with its rightful owner, and the gun is returned.

If the gun can not be tracked to a specific owner, then it is held for a certain amount of time (varies by Department, and also depending if it is evidence of a crime or not).

In Washington State, departments are mandated to then dispose of the guns to a licensed dealer. Unfortunately, some other jurisdictions (see above) can and do often opt for destruction.

Now, a very, VERY important message for YOU (yes, YOU) if you own ANY firearms. The single most important thing you can do is to RECORD THE SERIAL NUMBERS OF YOUR GUNS. Why?

If the guns are stolen, you file the police report. The guns can be then entered in the Triple-I database--ONLY IF YOU HAVE THE SERIAL NUMBER. If you do NOT have the serial number, the chances of you EVER getting your gun back go to zero. PLEASE record your serial numbers.
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Old March 18, 2010, 11:16 AM   #24
johnwilliamson062
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It is ultimately up to you to be able to provide a trail for weapons you have or have had in your possession.
Not any more so than that 9 iron.
I have all the serial numbers of guns I currently own.
I have no documentation of where/who guns went to, where/who I bought them from. I would guess most of it could be compiled through my e-mail, but I don't have any need to keep the info on file and would prefer not to.

I keep looking for confiscated gun deals. Haven't found any yet on anything but absolute junk. Surprisingly there seem to be very few Hi-points in the confiscated gun photos I see
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Old March 18, 2010, 12:26 PM   #25
Powderman
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Do a quick search for the Chicago PD evidence room, and look at the pictures of the guns confiscated there. Know well that after each gun has lost its evidentiary value, it WILL be destroyed.

You will get sick. VERY sick.
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