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Instead of Selling Guns, Seattle Police Will Start Destroying Them

The Seattle Police Department will begin melting down its unused guns rather than selling them, ending a practice that brought in about $30,000 a year.

By Patricia Madej

The Seattle Police Department will begin melting down its unused guns rather than selling them, ending a practice that brought in about $30,000 a year.

The resolution Monday was a slight change of plans -- the City Council was expected to vote on a resolution saying the guns would be sold only to other law-enforcement agencies, but Councilmember Tim Burgess amended the resolution, which then passed unanimously.

"We don't want the city in the business of distributing and selling firearms," Burgess said.

The resolution affects up to 100 guns per year, said a spokesperson from his office. Previously, the department would sell guns back to the manufacturer.

The original resolution presented Monday said the council hoped to ensure guns from the department aren't "diverted into an illegal market" and sought "to increase responsibility and improve firearm safety in the community."

Burgess said the amendment was passed primarily to keep gun-disposal policies consistent. The department also destroys firearms that are either surrendered to or seized by police.

The decision comes months after the fatal shooting of Che Taylor, who was killed by two Seattle police officers who feared he was reaching for a gun that was later traced back to a former King County sheriff's deputy.

The resolution and Burgess' amendment is unrelated to the case, Burgess said.

"That was never discussed in this at all," he said.

Dave Workman, spokesman for Second Amendment Foundation and senior editor of TheGunMag, called the decision a "terrible waste of money."

"We're talking about the taxpayer's money," he said. "City Council doesn't own those guns; the taxpayers do."

The mayor's office did not return a request for comment Tuesday.

SPD spokesman Sean Whitcomb said he supports the decision "full-heartedly."

"Really, this is a small cost to the department and the city to ensure that a gun no longer in use by the Seattle Police Department is not going to be used irresponsibly or fall into the wrong hands," he said. "Ultimately, I think there's general peace of mind."

(c)2016 The Seattle Times

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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