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Effect and Cause


As opposed to Cause and Effect.

I came across this article about guns sold by police departments at auction that were later used by criminals or found at crime scenes.

AP Exclusive: Debate simmers over police selling seized guns

SEATTLE (AP) — Kyle Juhl made one last attempt to patch things up with his fiancée, then took back his ring, put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger as she and her mother ran from the apartment. The bullet went through a wall and narrowly missed a neighbor’s head as she bent to pick up her little boy.

The Smith & Wesson 9 mm that Juhl used to kill himself in Yakima in 2014 was familiar to law enforcement: The Washington State Patrol had seized it years earlier while investigating a crime and then arranged its sale back to the public. It eventually fell into Juhl’s hands, illegally.

It’s fears of tragedies like that, or worse, that have created a split among law enforcement officials over the reselling of confiscated guns by police departments, a longtime practice allowed in most states.

Juhl’s gun was among nearly 6,000 firearms that were used in crimes and then sold by Washington law enforcement agencies since 2010, an Associated Press review found . More than a dozen of those weapons later turned up in new crime investigations inside the state, according to a yearlong AP analysis that used hundreds of public records to match up serial numbers.


So, 12 or so guns out of 6,000 became evidence in criminal cases. Not that all  were used in crimes, but they were somehow involved in crimes.

While those dozen or so guns represent an extremely small percentage of the resold firearms, some police departments contend the law shouldn’t be doing anything to put weapons back on the street. The AP did not look at how many of the resold guns figured in crimes committed out of state, so the actual number of misused weapons could be higher.

Or the number might NOT be higher. Which is my guess, because if the number was higher, then we’d be reading about it.

The National Rifle Association opposes the plan. [To destroy, not sell, the guns]

“The police chiefs maybe could sleep better if they went out and apprehended the criminals behind the guns and didn’t worry about destroying perfectly legal firearms that are no more easy to purchase than a brand-new firearm at a firearms dealer,” NRA spokesman Tom Kwieciak said.

This is a good point, and even the article mentions it. The police departments can’t sell the guns directly, they either hire a dealer to auction them off, or they trade them in to a dealer for other equipment. In either case, all buyers must go through a background check before they can purchase a gun.

There is no master list of guns sold by police, so compiling one for Washington state involved dozens of public-records requests to individual agencies. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives keeps track of crime guns but refused to release information from its database, so the AP collected databases from individual agencies and compared them with the sold guns.
This is partially true. As we learned during the Obama years, if a trace is done through the BATFE, then they have the information. They don’t track all guns that are used in crimes.
Police departments sell all kinds of used, found, stolen – recovered, and evidence related property. I wonder if any of the chiefs lose sleep worrying about a former police cruiser that they sold being driven by a drunk. Or if any children are hurt while riding bicycles that were bought from the police? How about a table saw that someone bought at a police auction ended up cutting off a couple of fingers?
My point, which I think is obvious, is that inanimate objects don’t commit or cause people to commit crimes or create accidents. The crime is in the mind of the criminal. As at least one police official points out in the article, someone who plans to commit a crime will find the means to do it. As will people who plan to kill themselves. If someone really wants to commit suicide, then they will commit suicide. No gun? Find a bridge. No bridge? Find some rope, or a belt, or even a neck tie? No tie? Pills.
This is just political feel good virtue signalling. If society wants to stop or reduce gun crime, put criminals who use guns in jail. For a long time at that.
Society, at least some parts of it, seem more intent on banning inanimate objects than in fixing serious problems in society.
So, for now at least the taxpayers will see their money going to waste because some politicians (in which I include police chiefs) feel that it’s more important to engage in meaningless symbolism than meaningful solutions.
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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.