Despite the buzz over buybacks, Texas police agencies put thousands of guns on the streets


What’s more, the news outlets say, gun rights advocates and lobbyists are making it more difficult to obtain information about the weapons handed off between police departments and the community.

Legislation passed in 2003 requires the FBI to get rid of firearms background check data within 24 hours. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also can’t publicly release certain data that allows the public to understand gun trace data.

The National Rifle Association has said the information should be kept confidential because it “serves no useful purpose.”

Flores said the purpose of Saturday’s buyback, the city’s fourth this year, was to dispose of unwanted weapons, and he said it was an unqualified success. There’s no indication the sort of secondary market that sprouted up over the summer spoiled this buyback.

“This is having a good, pronounced effect on increasing our public safety,” he said.

Dallas established its own gun buyback in 2009, offering a $50 grocery card for each unloaded and operable weapon that was surrendered. Police said the weapons would eventually be destroyed, just like duty weapons that are no longer usable.

It appears Dallas’ buyback program didn’t last long, and the department hasn’t said why it abandoned it. Private groups occasionally hold their own buybacks.

Kim Cole, who runs the Dallas police property room, said officers work aggressively to confiscate thousands of weapons while investigating crimes every year. Detectives get to decide if someone can get their gun back, and the owner has to go through a background check first.

Guns that can’t be returned to their owner are “utterly destroyed,” along with other unwanted police weapons, Cole said. The destruction process — by grinding or melting — is overseen by a judge who signs off on what can be destroyed and police officials who check the pieces to make sure they can’t be used.

Cole says selling to gun dealers isn’t an option.

“What if we put a gun in the hands of somebody that was a serial killer?” Cole said. “We don’t want to be in the business of selling weapons to the public.”

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