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Pro/Con: Should law enforcement sell confiscated guns?

By Jessica Priest
Sept. 1, 2013 at 4:01 a.m.
Updated Sept. 2, 2013 at 4:02 a.m.

Small caliber pistols, rifles and sawed-off handles are some of the guns that have been cleared from cases and soon could be available for sale by the sheriff's office.

When Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor took office nine years ago, he faced the daunting task of organizing a basement-level evidence locker overflowing with everything from 20-year-old vehicles to rifles taped haphazardly together.

He couldn't return the items to their rightful owners nor could he destroy them unless ordered to do so by a judge.

The task fell by the wayside, and the evidence has expanded in recent years to another 100-by-30-foot room nearby.

"Of course, now we'll probably have to hire an archivist, which we can't afford," O'Connor said, chuckling.

Beginning this week, O'Connor and law enforcement in general may open for business - the gun selling business.

House Bill 1421, which passed with little opposition during the 83rd Texas Legislature, authorizes law enforcement to sell guns confiscated in crimes and pocket the proceeds.

Supporters of the action point to the fact that it's still up to the judge, who will decide what weapons are eligible to be purchased by a federally licensed firearms dealer. They say this curbs wastefulness and could help counties that have fallen on hard times.

Anti-gun activists, meanwhile, worry the guns will eventually fall into the wrong hands. They say selling them is entirely unnecessary, especially because so many are already on the market.

Pro: Measure clears up a legal gray area, could help agencies earn money

Con: Law could be dangerous, counterproductive to police's mission

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