@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Bill would prevent police from destroying confiscated guns

Posted May 13, 2013 7:01 p.m. EDT
Updated May 14, 2013 8:50 a.m. EDT

— Police departments and other law enforcement agencies would not be able to destroy confiscated guns that are still in good working order under a bill passed by the House Judiciary Subcommittee B on Monday. 

The measure, House Bill 714, says departments may sell or auction weapons, use them for training or otherwise re-purpose them, but they may not destroy a gun if it is legal to own and in good working order.

"It seems fiscally responsible to maintain it," said Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer, R-Mecklenburg.

As it passed the committee, the bill also takes away the discretion of judges to order the destruction of a weapon that has been confiscated in a criminal case.

That caused dissension among lawmakers, including Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford, one of the primary sponsors of the bill.

"We ought to leave the judge the same authority he has now," Faircloth said. The bill, he said, should be adjusted to apply to guns that are voluntarily surrendered to police departments, such as during gun buyback programs, or donated. The proposal, he said, shouldn't restrict what police departments can do with guns confiscated in crimes. 

However, those changes weren't made in committee. Rather, lawmakers pledged to make them when the bill goes to the House floor. 

Arizona recently passed a similar measure, sending cities scrambling to destroy guns they recently acquired during gun buybacks. The National Rifle Association has threatened to sue to stop city police departments from destroying the firearms. 

Gun rights groups began pushing the law in 2011. Bloomberg News reported that the measure was adopted as model legislation by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a pro-business group generally seen as aligned with conservative state lawmakers. Parts of 2011 model legislation regarding guns are contained in ALEC's current model asset forfeiture law.