Should confiscated guns be resold?
There are approximately 38,000 deaths and 4.4 million serious injuries each year due to reckless driving, hit and run, DUI, evading, or escaping police pursuit. The number of vehicles used worldwide during the commission of a crime (including buses, vans, trucks, motorcycles, boats, aircraft, and SUVs) exceeds $30 million annually.
Drug cartels frequently use aircraft, from $10,000 single-engine propeller to $10-million multi-engine turbojets and even $500 motorized hang gliders. They also use boats, from the innocuous panga canoe to million-dollar high-speed ocean racers, sailboats, yachts, and inland-waterway houseboats.
When a drug-dealer is busted, the dealer's house, vehicle(s), and other personal property (sometimes including jewelry) are usually confiscated. They are then listed as "drug paraphernalia" and put up for public auction.
Several years ago, I took my 12-year-old son and a couple of his friends to a "police auction" because they were looking for a used mountain bike. Their "Grand Plan" was to convert a cheap bike (or two) into motorized jitney-like objects to shuttle people (e.g., tourists) around Santa Barbara.
These enthusiastic little entrepreneurs were convinced that, with the snap of a finger, all five of them would be millionaires before they were juniors in high school. So we attended a local police auction. It was soon discovered that the bids for these "used," stolen, and unclaimed bicycles quickly escalated from $2 to $10, then to $40, putting the boys' exquisite double-decker rickshaw business out of business.
Not to be discouraged, the boys immediately began planning how to sell bottles of Santa Barbara beach sand (to tourists). I didn't have the heart to tell them the inventor of "Pet Rocks" was already selling "Pet Beaches."
As we were leaving the auction, I noticed a table with five sizable bolt-cutters, some new hacksaws, a dozen crowbars, and a box full of high-end tactical flashlights. These items had been passed over for auction and, instead, had individual price tags. I purchased a new pair of bolt-cutters ($3), a hacksaw, a dozen diamond-grit blades ($2 each), and three flashlights ($1 each). All were regularly sold through mail-order catalogs at $20 each. (This sale predated eBay and Amazon.)
All these items were being sold as a result of drug seizures, burglaries, auto theft, and black-market confiscations. The City of Santa Barbara eventually used these monies to pay for youth intervention, rehabilitation, and child-protective programs.
Many cities across the country have similar "restitution" auctions and confiscated property sales that raise millions of dollars annually. The same Humvees used during bank robberies, or yachts and aircraft involved in transporting cocaine, and even the mobile homes used by pimps, drug-cookers, and bomb-makers, have become the Golden Goose for many municipalities.
Most people agree that it wouldn't make sense to set fire to the crack-houses, sink those fancy boats, or melt down the trucks, Humvees, bolt-cutters, hacksaws, and crowbars. Where's the money or the common sense in crushing a Learjet 650 Challenger into lawnmowers, just because it was used during the commission of a felony?
Should these inanimate, but potentially deadly objects — for example, a Cadillac or school bus owned by a human-trafficker or drug lord — be destroyed because they were used for an illegal purpose? Despite the possibility that some of these "police auction" items might be used in future crimes, most politicians would declare (with righteous indignation) that the money will do far more good than the risk of bolt-cutters or a Formula 500 Super Sport Crossover (offshore racer) falling into the wrong hands.
Here is my "controversial" question. When a firearm has been confiscated during the commission of a crime, what is wrong with allowing cities and/or law enforcement to resell that gun? Most likely, the person committing the crime did not pass a background check and probably didn't even have a receipt for its purchase.
Of course, when the confiscated gun is later sold "at auction," the new owner will have to complete the paperwork required by each particular state or city. It's possible that the same gun used in a home invasion, instead of being melted or otherwise disposed of, could be used to protect a family or business.
By unnecessarily destroying these inanimate objects (knives, guns, ice picks), non-profit organizations and diversely beneficial, highly-inclusive social programs are being deprived of millions, if not tens of millions of dollars.
If the money from these confiscated weapons could save just one life...wouldn't it be worth it? Let's rethink the way a potential Golden Egg is being wasted.
Cautiously scrambling random ideas into edible omelets.
Dale Lowdermilk, founder, NOTSAFE(.)ORG.