ATLANTA — A new bill in the Georgia legislature would let police departments and sheriff’s offices decide what to do with firearms seized at crime scenes.
Currently, state law requires law enforcement to make confiscated guns available for sale to the public. It’s a law supported by backers of gun rights.
However, many police jurisdictions have balked at recirculating those guns, and have stockpiled them in storage closets. The bill would loosen the restriction to allow police to decide whether to sell - or destroy - confiscated guns.
Gun-rights backers oppose the bill, introduced by Senate Democrats.
"If you destroy those firearms, all you’re going to do is put more money in the gun manufacturers' pockets," said Jerry Henry with Georgia Carry. He contends selling the seized guns would give gun buyers an opportunity to buy less expensive firearms for self-defense.
But backers say the concern of some police jurisdictions about releasing seized guns to the public are legitimate.
"The number of firearms certainly is a concern when you look at 40,000 in the US from firearms in 2017," said state Sen. Steve Henson (D-Tucker), the Senate's Democratic leader and a bill co-sponsor. "We have to be concerned about guns in America and the ramifications of so many guns."
Previous efforts to change the same law have gone nowhere in the legislature.