Confiscated weapons = Guns for sale

by Dave Malaska, Cincinnati.com  |  published on November 25, 2012

Nearly 15 years after Kentucky passed a law requiring state police to collect guns seized around the state and auction them off to buy equipment for police departments, debate over its impact continues. Attitudes of some critics of the law have changed, though.

Police chiefs, once the most vocal in opposition to the move, have warmed to it after it helped raise more than $7 million for bulletproof vests and other equipment for their departments.

Other officials and national gun watchdog groups, however, continue to voice concerns that the program makes available more cheap guns that find their way into the hands of criminals.

Weapons auctioned by Kentucky State Police to licensed gun dealers totaled 3,200 last year and will exceed 4,000 this year. They include a variety of pistols, rifles and shotguns, large-caliber weapons and even an occasional assault weapon like the AR-15 – the same type of weapon the Colorado theater shooter used to injure 58 people and kill 10 last July.

“In my experience, the guns that end up there are dangerous weapons, poorly made, often damaged or really don’t have value unless you’re looking for an inexpensive firearm,” said one critic, Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders. “And if you’re looking for a cheap gun, you’re usually up to no good.”

Before 1998, most of Kentucky’s police forces destroyed weapons they confiscated. Then State Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, proposed the bill to stop the destruction of guns after police in his rural district complained that they were forced to destroy better guns than the weapons they carried on duty. The bill allowed police to keep some weapons for departmental use but directed them to send the bulk of them to KSP for auction to fund the state’s Law Enforcement Protection Program.

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