We recently sold my mother-in-law’s house. In the process of cleaning it out we found a bunch of ammunition my father-in-law had stuck in a closet. It was a box approximately 8” x 12” x 4” full of various cartridges and shells in various calibers. My son the gun nut didn’t want it because of its size and age. We were trying to find some way to dispose of it. He suggested we turn it in at the police department. I gave the local precinct a call to see what they wanted me to do. The following conversation ensued between me and someone who answered the phone just as “Precinct One” . . .
Me: We were cleaning out my mother-in-law’s house and we ran across a bunch of old ammunition my father-in-law had stashed back and wondered how we should dispose of it.
Precinct One (in a slow southern drawl): Uh, you can do most anything you want with it.
Me: This is live ammo – shotgun shells, 22 long rifle bullets, 9 mm cartridges. You mean I can just toss it in a dumpster somewhere?
PO: Pretty much. The only federal law is that you can’t send it in the mail.
Me: So I can dump it anywhere, just as long as I don’t mail it to anyone?
PO: Pretty much.
Me: (Pregnant pause) Okaaaaaayyyy…. thank you.
PO: No problem!
After consulting with RF, we carted the boxed ammo to a local gun range that disposed of it for us. Although the P.O. was right (thanks AI), there’s an important lesson here: do NOT depend on the police to give you the 411 on applicable gun laws.
Law enforcement officers often have no clue as to the statutes in their city, county or state. Equally, they can not be held legally liable if they give you a bum steer.
The same holds true for gun dealers. And firearms forums, FAQ sites or law-firm sponsored websites. There is only one trustworthy source of information regarding any and all aspects of gun law: the laws themselves.
Take the time to go to the official government websites and read your local and state firearms statutes; ignorance is no excuse under the law. Luckily, most gun laws are written in plain English. So it’s not such a big deal. But it will be if you get it wrong.
As always, remember to STFU if and when you get into any firearms-related problem involving the police. At that point, any friendly advice from law enforcement officials is worth exactly what it was worth before you got into “trouble”: nothing.