As calls for gun control increase among the parties that claim it would put an end to mass shootings, an investigation is revealing that state sheriff’s deputies are taking the firearms they have seized from individuals and re-selling them to generate revenue—only to find that some of the guns go on to be used in other crimes.
According to the results of an investigation reported by the Associated Press, in the state of Washington alone, “more than a dozen of the guns sold by law enforcement since 2010 ended up in new crimes.”
The firearms are also typically sold to arms dealers in large batches, with a recent lot of 331 guns being transferred from the Washington State Patrol to a gun dealer in Knoxville, Tennessee. Included in that batch were at least five assault rifles.
Not only are state police re-selling firearms, they are selling them at cheap prices, ensuring that they will continue to receive revenue in return for the items they obtained for free. As the investigation noted, while a new AR-15 costs between $650 and $950 online, the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force auctioned two of the firearms for $250 and $370 each.
The ArmaLite Rifle, or AR-15, has recently become the most demonized firearm of the moment after it was reportedly used in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and while the AP investigation includes the gun in its list of “assault rifles,” it should be noted that the AR-15 does not have select-fire capabilities and by definition, is not an assault rifle.
However, the idea that state police are seizing firearms—including AR-15’s, AK47’s and SKS rifles—should anger the crowd that supports stricter gun control measures, the crowd that supports the Second Amendment, and the crowd that supports increased police accountability.
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Yakima Police Captain Jeff Schneider told the AP that he is concerned about the possibility of the firearms being used in future crimes after they are sold by police. "It's possible a firearm sold by a police agency could be used in a mass shooting, but since they are rare, it's more likely it could be used in a crime against police. That's a real threat,” he said.
In contrast, 2017 was actually one of the safest years for police officers in more than 50 years. According to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a total of 128 officers died on duty, 44 of whom were shot and killed. Nearly one-third fewer officers died of gunshot wounds in the last year, when compared to 2016.
While the number of police officers who died on the job in 2017 was historically low, the number of people killed by police officers continued to stay alarmingly high at nearly 1,200 deaths, according to the Killed By Police database.
Chief Schneider may have incorrectly stated that the practice of reselling confiscated firearms will lead to increase crimes against police, but he was not wrong about the fact that it would result in some sort of corruption.
For example, in the city of Baltimore, the police department’s elite Gun Trace Task Force was praised for its impressive ability to confiscate illegal firearms from the public. That was up until the same men who were applauded for the ways they were serving society were then exposed for stealing excessive amounts of cash and drugs during the raids.
As The Free Thought Project has reported, the Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating the task force after a Baltimore detective was caught on a wiretap discussing drug trafficking with a drug dealer who was being investigated. Since then, several members of the task force have been indicted, including the group’s supervisor, who is accused of stealing more than $100,000 during raids between 2014 and 2016.
The department has also faced criticism for Body Camera footage that showed officers planting drugs on innocent citizens and working together to manufacture evidence. One Baltimore detective who intended to expose the actions of his corrupt colleagues was shot with his own gun, the day before he was set to testify in court.