In a move that gun rights advocates said “demonizes guns,” the Seattle City Council voted unanimously on Monday to melt down the Seattle Police Department’s used firearms instead of selling them.
It was a measure initially introduced by Mayor Ed Murray’s office and Councilwoman Sally Bagshaw as a step to reduce the number of guns in the country.
“We're going to take the guns and destroy the guns,” Murray said. “They're not going to be resold anywhere.”
The Seattle Police Department estimates that next year and in the years after it would have made about $30,000 annually by trading in its guns, but calls the size of the budget impact “negligible.”
“Why give away that money?” KIRO 7 asked Murray.
“You know what costs this city? Is violence. Is gun violence. Is crimes involving guns,” he said. “And it’s costing this nation an incredible amount of money.”
“Why introduce this resolution? Is this really a problem for SPD?” KIRO 7 asked.
“So, gun(s) and gun violence is a huge problem for every city in America and mayors around the country are struggling with what I’m struggling with: How do we reduce the number of guns when Congress won’t act? When state legislatures often don't act?” he said.
KIRO 7 asked Murray for examples of any cases in which police guns got into the wrong hands.
“You know, there are just too many guns getting into the wrong hands,” he said. The mayor said he does not have data specific to Seattle but believes guns sold out of state could easily come back to Seattle or other areas.
“They may be part of a crime in another city,” he said. “The point is, -- we are not an island.”
Seattle police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said in his 12 years with the department, he could not recall any former Seattle police guns being used in a crime.
The Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue, called the resolution “stupid.”
Founder Alan Gottlieb said, “The guns that the Police Department would dispose of would go to a licensed dealer and anybody who bought one from a dealer would go through a background check. The funds being lost by not trading them in or selling them could have been used for better equipment for the police to protect all of us.”
KIRO 7 asked Seattle police how many guns would likely be melted down a year. The department has not yet released the number, or the potential cost of melting them down.
The King County Sheriff’s Office said it still makes money by trading in its deputies’ used guns.
The policy also requires that bidders who want to sell guns to the Seattle Police Department adhere to federal and state law and that the city verify each bidder’s latest inspection report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
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