St. Louis Police Sell Off Rare Guns to Raise Funds to Rearm Force

As a result of the total $1.2 million deal, the department will obtain about 1,525 new 9 mm Beretta handguns and a number of AR-15 rifles. Gun broker Police Trades is based in Chesterfield, Missouri, and will sell the 27 Tommy guns to Kentucky-based Midwest Distributors.

Police Trades is run by retired St. Louis Police Lieutenant Raymond Reynolds, who serves as president.

Bill Hicks and Co., based in Minneapolis, will purchase the old Beretta handguns, as well as a number of carbine rifles, for a total price of $597,000.

Carol Shepard, the police department’s purchasing procurement officer, said the transaction is awaiting approval from the city counselor and comptroller’s office.

The original reason to sell the weapons was to purchase new duty weapons, and we did so well on the sale, we will be able to purchase rifles as well, by our own actions without using any budget money,” Shepard said. “That was the most important thing for us. We made our own money to take care of our own problem.”

At one time, the department considered auctioning off the Tommy guns, but found the market was limited because of various requirements as to who can own them. Only those with a federal license can own such a weapon and it can take up to a year to obtain the permit. Applicants must pass a background check, pay a $200 federal tax and inform local police chiefs of the purchase.

In addition, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) must approve the transfer, a process that can take 90 days.

The Tommy guns were taken out of commission about 60 years ago and stored in a basement bunker inside the police academy. Two of the weapons will be retained for display inside the crime lab.

Once the companies buy the department’s surplus weapons, they will be sold only to those who pass background checks. Reynolds’ company will allow St. Louis police officers to buy back their duty weapons as personal weapons if they so desire.”

In terms of how the new AR-15 rifles will be used, Interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole said they will be assigned to only a limited number of officers in each police district. The department has a policy on how the rifles may be used in order to avoid an excessive show of force that might exacerbate existing tensions in the community.

The St. Louis Police Department deserves great credit for its imaginative solution to rearming its officers without putting a financial burden on local taxpayers.

Source: St. Louis Today




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