In a lot of places, when the police seize guns, they eventually sell it back to the public. That’s assuming, of course, that it can be sold back to the public. One illegally converted to a machine gun, for example, isn’t getting sold, nor is one that has the serial numbers removed.
They also don’t sell it if it’s known to have been stolen from a lawful gun owner. Well, it’s not supposed to, at least.
But most can be sold and doing so offsets a police department’s operating expenses.
Yet an editorial in the Bangor Daily News seems to think that a bill seeking to bar the practice in Maine is just common sense.
One bill that was approved for consideration last week targets a very specific problem — the sale of forfeited guns by law enforcement in Maine.
The Legislature will have an opportunity to do this after a bill, proposed by Democratic Sen. Anne Carney of Cape Elizabeth, was approved by the Legislative Council, a 10-member panel of top lawmakers, on Thursday. Her bill would require the destruction of all firearms forfeited to law enforcement.
And, of course, they’re not without an example of just why they’re correct to support this bill.
However, here’s one example of why these sales can be problematic.
In April, a Maine woman was charged with buying dozens of guns for gang members in California. Some of the guns were purchased from the store in Auburn that bought guns from the Oxford County sheriff. One gun from the Auburn store has already been seized by police in Los Angeles, according to court records.
Maybe it’s just me, but if this is the only example they can provide for an entire state over the last God only knows how many years, then maybe this isn’t the problem they want people to think it is.
First, let’s recognize that this woman was straw buying guns. That’s an illegal act in the first place. Yet it’s not like it wouldn’t have happened if seized guns had been destroyed. She’d have just bought different guns. That’s it.
There’s absolutely zero evidence that anything would have been different other than which particular firearms were bought.
Second, it’s easy to bring up a case like this and just pretend that’s the totality of the outcome of this practice, but it’s not.
These guns are bought by a lot of people. Many of those sleep better at night having that firearm in their nightstand.
We also don’t know how many of these guns were used in self-defense situations. That’s not something that will likely be tracked, after all, since it’s a lawful use, yet it also matters.
The editorial board brings up a single straw purchase to bolster their argument, but how many people in Maine are alive today because they bought a gun the cops sold to the store? Those guns are often a bit cheaper than new firearms, which means they’re a viable option for people of more limited means.
Further, let’s keep in mind just how low the homicide rate in Maine typically is. While the editorial board brings up the specter of Lewiston to justify this, the murder rate in the state is typically less than the death toll from that single incident.
If this practice were so dangerous, how is it that an entire state has low double digit homicides annually?
No, there’s no common sense involved in this. There’s fear, paranoia, and a lack of understanding, but that’s all on the part of the editorial board. It pairs nicely with their general animosity toward guns, don’t you think?