News 9 Looks Into What Happens To Guns Seized By Oklahoma Police
OKLAHOMA CITY - We surveyed a total of 13 metro police departments about their gun policy. You would think that all of them destroy the weapons they have left over in their property rooms. But it turns out not all of them do.
We discovered a majority of metro police departments do destroy guns recovered during a raid or at a crime scene. They include Edmond, The Village, Nichols Hills, Moore, Norman, and Oklahoma City.
"A lot of the guns, they won't work, they'll malfunction, they're very old, they're disabled.
Some of them aren't," said Msgt. Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City Police Department. "Some of them are good guns but there are enough guns in the market."
We got to see exactly how Oklahoma City destroys its confiscated guns and rifles. We witnessed as barrels of weapons went through two sets of grinders. Once they are sufficiently smashed up and rendered unusable, they are shipped off out of town and recycled.
But Assistant Chief Sid Porter with the Midwest City Police Department says destroying guns is not going to stop violent crime from happening.
"Every gun we get, if we destroyed them, you are going to have a manufacturer out there that is going to make them or replace them." said Porter. "The way that we look at it right now is we are selling these guns to a dealer that deals with these guns and sells guns constantly, They have to follow the laws given to them, and as long as they follow the laws, and the guns sold correctly, we don't see an issue on that."
Turns out both Midwest City and Del City trade in their usable guns with police authorized firearms dealers. So instead of getting money, they get new equipment.
"I was told by our range master that in the last 5 years because of this we have saved over around $100,000 in trade." Porter said.
The Yukon Police Department keeps its seized weapons under lock and key in lockers in the property room. They are kept here until a judge can sign off on what to do with them. Police here say the ones that are junk end up at a smelter. But the ones that can be used may end up back in the hands of one of their commissioned officers.
"If it's something that is in good condition but we wouldn't use it at the department, then we sell or trade them to a fire arms dealer," said Ron Mathews with the Yukon Police Department.
They are not the only ones. The Bethany Police Department usually auctions off all of its leftover weapons. But right now, their city attorney is reviewing that policy.
"I think the last one we did generated close to $20,000," said Deputy Chief John Reid with the Bethany Police Department.
Many of Bethany's auctioned off weapons ended up at Outdoor America Gun Store, located at N.W.19th and MacArthur.
Though most of the auctioned off guns end up in the junk pile, there is an occasional usable gun or collector's item. And those can go for a pretty penny.
"They're still a great firearm that somebody would want, so why not sell it to a collector?" said Carl Hoover who works at Outdoor America. "It's a political firefight! Some agencies need the money, God bless them."
Hoover says when someone comes in to purchase one of those firearms, they have to go through the federal background check and clear it before they can buy a weapon.
Those weapons that are considered junk are eventually destroyed.
Those departments that do sell or trade their leftover guns say it helps save their cities, and their departments, a lot of money.
"I would say thousands of dollars. And every little bit helps," Mathews said.
See exactly what each police department said on their survey:
"We only trade useable firearms to licensed firearms dealers. The trade is for firearms or items that can be used by officers. Unsafe or poorly constructed firearms are destroyed by our city. Also, weapons involved in homicides are kept as evidence and not sold." Jody Suit – Del City Police Department.
" We save the weapons and then will trade them in for department weapons with a firearms company. If the weapons are modified or broken they will be destroyed. This saves thousands of dollars for the city. " Assistant Chief of Police Sid Porter Midwest City Police Department.
"The Moore Police Department holds weapons until the courts dispose of the cases. We then obtain court orders and have the weapons destroyed. This decision was made several years ago to prevent the weapons from being put back on the street." Captain Greg Anderson, Moore Police Department.
"Unless we have a lawful owner to release the gun to, we destroy all guns we receive. We have never traded or sold guns for equipment or money. " Steve Jagosh Deputy Chief The Village Police Department.
"After the active case is closed, firearms are returned to the owner if they are permitted to own a firearm by law. A list of any firearms that cannot be returned to the owner, or an owner is not identified, will be sent to the range master to evaluate its value and if it can be sold. All other firearms that have little to no value are taken to a local scrap metal yard and destroyed in our presence for conformation. Any transfer of ownership requires us to obtain a court order." Jenny Monroe Edmond Police Department Public Information Specialist.
The Yukon Police department keeps their seized weapons under lock and key in lockers in the property room.They are kept here until a judge can sign off on what to do with them. Police here say the ones that are junk end up at a smelter. But the ones that can be used, may end up back in the hands of one of their commissioned officers.
"If its something that is in good condition but we wouldn't use it at the department, then we sell or trade them to a fire arms dealer." Ron Mathews, Yukon Police Department.
These are the written responses from the police departments who answered my written request via e-mail.
Other departments told News 9 their answers by phone. Here's how it all breaks down by graph
OKC – destroy
Edmond – destroy some, sell some, return what they can
MWC – trade
Del City Trade usable guns with fire arms dealers, destroy unusable guns
The Village – destroys
Nichols Hills – destroys or keeps them in evidence room forever
Bethany – Auctions weapons off to licensed fire arms dealers for trade
Moore – destroys
Norman – destroys
Yukon – destroys or their officers use them
Mustang – don't get enough firearms to do anything with them
Valley Brook –give back to owner or send to OSBI ballistics and destroy them.