What is the logic of destroying guns that were confiscated during illegal activities?
What is the logic of destroying guns that were confiscated or surrendered during buyback programs? Many law enforcement agencies in cities such as Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles destroy those firearms. Some agencies like the New York Police Department are proud of it and have the news snap a picture of a pile of firearms.
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) October 26, 2016
Currently, eleven states have logical laws ensuring firearms are either resold or returned to their rightful owner if stolen. Those states are North Dakota, Montana, Michigan, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Kansas and Arizona.
If we use New York City as an example, NY1 reported that the most recent batch of guns to be incinerated was 3,000. The NYPD destroys firearms twice a year (1). After browsing numerous used gun websites, a cheap decent handgun would run around $180. If you do the math (6000) x (180)= $1,080,000.This is just a rough number as there are probably more expensive handguns, rifle prices weren’t taken into account and, some may be unusable. However if we use that as a baseline that comes out to (6000) x (180) = $1,080,000.
Is it just me or can that money go to the schools, homeless, charities or even back into law enforcement agency for training, newer and/or safer equipment? To put the need for money in perspective, currently, in New York City (August 2016), there were “61,464 homeless people including 15,501 homeless families with 23,929 homeless children which is 86 percent higher than it was ten years ago. Research shows that the primary cause of homelessness, particularly among families, is lack of affordable housing” (2). This is the equivalent of a starving person turning down food.
The only argument that can be given for destroying working firearms is an emotional one:
NYC Police Commissioner James O’Neill states “Some police departments around the nation sell their seized guns to gun buyers in order to make money, we never do that.” These guns will never again be used to hurt somebody or threaten the quality of life of the good people of this city. This is the end of the iron pipeline. This is the last you’ll see of these guns” (3).
Fred Fletcher, the police chief of Chattanooga, states “My job is to keep my officers safe there have been more than 100 shootings this year. To send them out to face the same guns they risked their lives to get off the street is a big concern” (5).
Many websites might use catchy titles like Politico’s “How the NRA Keeps Killer Guns on the Market” and give extremely uncommon times of a gun being released and reused in another crime but again that is just appealing to emotions.
I have to agree with the NRA on this one where a spokesman stated “Firearms should be treated the same as boats, jewelry, or any other confiscated asset and sold at auction. Most departments are strapped for funds as it is, to cut off the potential cash flow for the sake of making some social commentary is short sighted at best”.
Unless you are superstitious, guns become illegal or there is a shortage of firearms, what does destroying a gun accomplish? I can’t find any evidence that points to an unlucky gun that will always fall into the wrong hands or make people do bad things. Nor can I find any data that suggests getting shot by another serial number would hurt less? So again besides bleeding money what does this accomplish?
Whether you are a gun owner or not, believe they should be banned or not, I don’t see the logic of this especially for New York City. New York City has one of the strictest gun laws in the nation. It can take between 3-6 months with waits up to 8 months not uncommon. If approved (I have heard many are denied at first) the total cost is $539.50 (unless it has gone up) not including the many days off work and transportation costs to travel to and from One Police Plaza (4).
If police departments especially the NYPD sell it or only sell them to a reputable Federal Firearms dealer at a great price, that would ensure the best practices under the law to get guns into the hands of law abiding citizens. Contrary to popular belief according to ATF agent Jay Wachtel “stolen guns account for only about 10% to 15% of guns used in crimes”. Most firearms are obtained illegally by straw purchases which means having someone else buy a gun for you and purchases from corrupt licensed dealers (6). The people who care the most should be the people fairly but firmly selling those guns and who better than the people sworn to protect?
I also see destroying used firearms as counter-intuitive to any type of anti-gun effort because instead of the regular working class guy buying a gun at an affordable price, he might now buy one at full price from the many gun manufacturers.
(1) NYPD Sending Thousands of Guns Out of State to be Melted Down This Week. (2016). TWC News. Retrieved 29 October 2016, from http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/criminal-justice/2016/10/25/nypd-sending-thousands-of-guns-used-in-crimes-out-of-state-to-be-melted-down-this-week.html
(2) Basic Facts About Homelessness: New York City – Coalition For The Homeless. (2016). Coalitionforthehomeless.org. Retrieved 29 October 2016, from http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/basic-facts-about-homelessness-new-york-city/
(3) Rayman, G. & Rayman, G. (2016). NYPD has seized more than 1,000 guns this year. NY Daily News. Retrieved 29 October 2016, from http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nypd-seized-1-000-guns-year-article-1.2845931
(4) Getting A NYC Handgun Permit | New York City Guns. (2016). Newyorkcityguns.com. Retrieved 29 October 2016, from http://newyorkcityguns.com/getting-a-nyc-handgun-permit/
(5) Hicken, B. (2016). New laws force police to put guns back on the street. CNNMoney. Retrieved 30 October 2016, from http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/21/news/police-selling-seized-guns/
(6) frontline: hot guns: “How Criminals Get Guns” | PBS. (2016). Pbs.org. Retrieved 30 October 2016, from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/guns/procon/guns.html