New law puts police, sheriffs in gun-dealing business

Posted September 25, 2013

— A new state law could put guns that have been used in crimes back on the street.

The so-called Save the Guns Law, which went into effect Sept. 1, prohibits North Carolina law enforcement agencies from destroying most of the guns that are seized in criminal investigations or surrendered by owners.

Unless a weapon no longer works or lacks a valid serial number, police departments and sheriff's offices must either donate it to a museum, keep it for training or sell it to a federally licensed gun dealer – even if it was used in a crime.

"I think most victims' families don't want the firearms that have been used to hurt one of their loved ones to then be recirculated back in the community," said Rep. Duane Hall, D-Wake, who voted against the legislation.

"I trust the discretion of local police officers and local sheriffs who know their communities," Hall said, noting that the law takes away that discretion.

Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, who voted for the law, said selling guns is a more efficient way for police to dispose of them.

"Rather than taking the issue back into court and spending time with a judge, it seems to me that it's more convenient and more cost-effective," Dollar said.

guns New law could put seized guns back on street

Capt. Tracy Jernigan, of the Cary Police Department, said he never expected to find himself in the gun business. The department takes in about 50 guns a year and has traditionally destroyed them.

"I think that we’re going to have to do the best we can with the statute and make the best of it. It’s too early really to tell whether it’s a win or not," Jernigan said. "I do think there will be some value out of it for the agency as far as being able to put resources back into the department, but it does, it is something different than we’ve been doing."

The Cary Police Department hasn't decided what course to take in disposing of weapons, he said.

Likewise, the Raleigh Police Department is considering its options for the 750 or so guns it takes in each year, spokesman Jim Sughrue said. He declined to comment on the impact of the new law.

"Since the police department’s mission regarding firearms is limited to enforcing laws and ordinances, I don’t feel qualified to comment on a matter of public policy established by statute," Sughrue said in an email.

Gun-rights groups backed the law, while the North Carolina Sheriff's Association declined to take a position on it.


This blog post is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • bmccullar Sep 29, 2013

    If you are against the selling of seized and confiscated weapons, you are either a gun dealer who will no longer be able to rip off the police departments by giving them pennies for their weapons in trade or you work for the manufacture of weapons. If you sell these less people will be purchasing new weapons. That's why they spend so much money to have people vote against this. Gun dealers have been going in and basically raping the police of these weapons for years. They call it buy back. They make money off of the pennies they pay for the gun and they also off of the new weapons they sell to the departments. These are not murder weapons. Agencies must keep murder weapons a minimum of 40 years and most states require 100.I think it would be a mistake to sell directly to the public. I heard their is a new gun site www.fflgunauctions.com. These guys hire military veterans and mainly sell to FFL Dealers. They put them through full background checks, clean and test every weapon.

  • COPs eye Sep 27, 2013

    Would it really matter if a gun used in a crime was used before or it was a first time offender???? Anyone wanting to commit a crime using a firearm is going to get a firearm period....geesh

  • CandyParamedic Sep 27, 2013

    Destroying these guns is a money wasting grand standing. We are in a budget crisis. How can you justify destruction of property which has significant monetary value and can be of use to our police? Firearms which are fully functional should be allocated to the department to utilize or sold to generate revenue for law enforcement. Glad to see some common sense. These departments aren't selling to any criminal who walks in off the street with a few hundred bucks.

  • COPs eye Sep 27, 2013

    Quit blaming the liberals and remember that finger you are pointing has 4 more pointed back at you. rindyelvis

    I have tried several times and everytime I point a finger at liberals I have only 3 fingers pointing back at me....my thumb points fwd also...did u grow an extra finger??? just saying

  • jpd9930 Sep 27, 2013

    This will cost more to manage than the money they could recover from the sale of junk guns. They might get a gem now and then but overall it's a waste of resources and money.

    the only difference, most likely, in selling to a FFL dealer is who the final customer is. Either a Dealer of the scrap metal guy. I doubt any other prortion of the process will change much.

  • jpd9930 Sep 27, 2013

    Not saying much for the intelligence of our state's citizens. Everyone can own a gun - it is just the poorly educated, highly suggestible masses, that actually believe the GOP propaganda about them coming for your guns. Pretty pathetic and sad!

    I'm pretty sure Obama has put a lot effort into it...same with feinstein and the rest... fortunatly cooler heads with common sense prevailed.

  • jpd9930 Sep 27, 2013

    This law will be on the books until gun manufacturers, sensing lower sales due to all the additional guns made available," jonstewartrules

    the small amount that returned for resale will be very small compared to the quantity manufactured...I think this article mentions 50 in year... thats less than a days worth for most manufactures and certainly less than a minutes worth for all manufactures.

  • jpd9930 Sep 27, 2013

    If the gun is stolen property then it seems the rightful owner should get it back...just like a TV, car or hammer.

  • jpd9930 Sep 27, 2013

    Quit blaming the liberals and remember that finger you are pointing has 4 more pointed back at you. rindyelvis

    becuase it is liberals that are doing the killing... for the most part....

    BTW Elvis has left the building

  • disgusted2010 Sep 26, 2013

    I see the anti-gun, anti-law enforcement censors are out in force today. It's a shame posts that don't toe the WRAL line never see the light of day and others can liable and slander law enforcement and are posted with pride.

    Maybe the FCC will do something about it next time you license is up for review.