This bill will prohibit seized firearms not used in the commission of a felony from being destroyed by law enforcement agencies. These firearms, so long as they are in operable condition, would either be sold to a licensed gun dealer (FFL) or donated to hunter education programs. In addition, it would also mandate that if a firearm has been seized by law enforcement and the owner is acquitted of the charges or the charges are dropped, the firearm must be returned to the owner within thirty days.
It’s likely that most of the guns held by the police are from old domestic protection order cases. The law was reformed in 2014 to require police to return guns or other weapons to owners who were not convicted of any crime. This stops the “legalized theft” of firearms, where departments required individuals to obtain a court order to have their firearms returned. Often, the cost of the court order was more than the firearm was worth. Now, as part of Kansas statute 22-2512(d) :
(d) If a weapon is seized from an individual and the individual is not convicted of or adjudicated as a juvenile offender for the violation for which the weapon was seized, then within 30 days after the declination or conclusion of prosecution of the case against the individual, including any period of appeal, the law enforcement agency that seized the weapon shall verify that the weapon is not stolen, and upon such verification shall notify the person from whom it was seized that the weapon may be retrieved. Such notification shall include the location where such weapon may be retrieved.
This reform will reduce the number of firearms available for auction in the future.
After the law’s passage, in February 2015, kansas.com reported that “More than 200 guns, of various makes and models, will be available on BudsGunShop.com for purchase by licensed firearm dealers, said Elizabeth Harlenske, assistant city attorney.” Something must have happened to scuttle those plans; the Wichita Police are now going to auction the guns to one or more dealers. From kwch.com on December 22, 2015:
Licensed federal firearms dealers get them first and are free to sell the weapons just like any other.
Tuesday the Wichita city council took the first step toward organizing a dealer auction of almost 200 handguns and rifles for the Wichita Police Department. Among those guns are weapons used in crimes from 1997 to 2015.
There hasn’t been a date set for the auction. As with many cities, the handguns collected outnumber long guns. There are about 170 handguns, and 50 long guns to be auctioned. Here is a sample of the handguns listed (excuse the fuzzy graphic):
A much higher percentage of long guns are excellent, sought after, serviceable firearms. But even inexpensive single shot shotguns tend to be of good quality, meant to last a few lifetimes if cared for properly.
These reforms will help restore respect for the law. Having your property taken at gun point, then finding that you will be required to spend more than the property is worth to recover it (when you are found not guilty) does substantial harm to the idea of the rule of law. Any belief that the criminal justice system can be relied on to use a little common sense is destroyed. Without belief in the rule of law, civilized society falls apart, exactly as we have seen in many urban centers.
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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