TTAG reader Zak writes “How do you properly dispose of firearms that you don’t want to re-sell such as firearms that are unsafe to shoot or broken and not worth fixing? I realize you can drop it off at a gun buy-back, but what are other options?”
Firearms are mechanical devices. Like all other mechanical contraptions they eventually break or wear out. When a gun becomes BER — Beyond Economical Repair — it may be time to put it out to pasture. Here are four options:
Surrender It to Your Local Police
For sentimental pieces like the rifle your grandfather brought back from WWII or your first hunting rifle there are better options, but for guns that you don’t have any attachment to and just want to divest, surrendering it to the local police is the easiest solution. That said, walking into a police station and declaring you have a firearm might not be the best way to handle this situation.
If you want to surrender an old gun, call your local police station’s non-emergency phone line and describe the situation. They will usually be happy to walk you through the process. Depending on the station they may even dispatch officers to your home to collect the firearm, ask you to schedule an appointment to bring it in, or simply ask you to walk in.
Before you make the call, make sure you are not a prohibited person and that you possess the firearm lawfully (check your local and state laws). Also be aware that the police department may run the serial number of the firearm through their database to see if it’s been stolen. If you’re not entirely sure of your firearm’s provenance, the subsequent encounter could get a little more interesting than you’d like.
Take it to a Gun “BuyBack”
If you’re considering the surrender option, see if there’s a gun “buyback” scheduled in your town.
These “no questions asked” events make the process of turning in your guns as quick and painless as possible. The usually involving some sort of monetary incentive — like a cash card or store credit in return for your busted heater.
Gun rights advocates have taken to setting-up purchase stalls outside these events, offering better prices for unwanted guns than the police and the chance of a new home for an old gun.
“Deactivate” The Gun and Turn It Into Art
When is a gun no longer a gun? According to the ATF any firearm that has been made “permanently inoperable” is no longer a firearm, and no longer subject to firearms-related laws. The definition of “permanently inoperable” in 27 CFR § 478.11 is as follows:
A firearm which is incapable of discharging a shot by means of an explosive and incapable of being readily restored to a firing condition. An acceptable method of rendering most firearms permanently inoperable is to fusion weld the chamber closed and fusion weld the barrel solidly to the frame. Certain unusual firearms require other methods to render the firearm permanently inoperable. Contact ATF for instructions.
The process for normal firearms is pretty simple: weld the action shut, weld the barrel to the action and fill the barrel with cement. For things like machine guns the rules get very specific and require a gas axe, but the concept is still the same. Once the gun has been made inoperable it’s no different than a length of steel pipe and you can do with it what you want.
Here are some ideas for repurposing your now inoperative firearm:
Make a decorative plaque. If your gun had some sentimental value, consider mounting it on a plaque and hanging it in your home. Other alternatives in that same style include making a display stand for a shelf or desk.
Turn it into a lamp. If you are smart you might consider snaking some electrical wire up the barrel of your gun before filling it with cement. Add a lightbulb to the top and mount it on a stand — hey-presto a new lamp! Extra points if the trigger becomes the on/off switch.
Make it into a chair. If you have enough ancient and unserviceable guns then perhaps you should build yourself an ARMSchair. Get it? ARMS chair? Firearms? I know, I’m the worst.
There are plenty of ways to use your now inoperative firearm around the house. I’m sure there will be more suggestions in the comments.
Give It To your Gunsmith
Gunsmiths need practice. If you have a local ‘smith they might want to practice their skills on your old busted piece of junk. Consider donating it to someone who could use it.
I’m sure I’ve missed some options, but that should get your started. Good luck, and let’s hope that your guns never get to that point.
[Email your firearms-related questions to “Ask Foghorn” via firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to browse previous posts]