Vermont Government Finally Selling Stored Guns, But at What Cost?

Opinion

Vermont Capital Building State House Montpelier
Vermont Government Finally Selling Stored Guns, But at What Cost?

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- Vermont is finally selling guns the government has impounded for decades. The legislation to do so came at the price of universal background checks, a ban on standard capacity magazines, and a ban on sales to adults less than 21 years old.

Prior to 2018, Vermont had created a legal and political impasse about stored firearms in state and police custody. The firearms had accumulated over decades. Most of the firearms were not involved in serious crimes.

From sevendaysvt.com:

“Disposing of firearms is one of the most difficult parts of managing our evidence and property rooms,” said Morrison, who also serves as president of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police.

Under state law, officials need permission from the commissioner of public safety or the state treasurer in order to destroy or sell guns held by the government. According to Morrison, those officials have refused to give their permission for years, even when she proposed bringing in a private company that can strip guns for parts and then destroy them for free.

With no legal way for cops to get rid of the guns, they pile up.

About 300 guns had accumulated in state custody as well. Before 2018, the state treasurer had been responsible for the disposal of the guns. But neither of those political officials wanted to take responsibility to do so.

It is easy to understand why. Destroy the guns, and they would be accused of destroying valuable property for no good reason. Sell the guns, and the shrill anti-Second Amendment types would accuse them of “putting deadly weapons on the street”. So the firearms accumulated in the thousands.

Vermont has a low crime rate, but high gun ownership.

Early in 2018, Senate Bill 55 was introduced by Senator Richard Sears, with the title: “An act relating to the disposition of unlawful and abandoned firearms”.  It was merely a placeholder without the guts of the proposed bill.

Before any action was taken, the Parkland, Florida mass murder took place.

The media push for heavy restrictions on firearms and firearms ownership was used as an opportunity to load Bill 55 with severe restrictions on firearms and firearms ownership. It included: bans on magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds for rifles, or 15 rounds for pistols, a ban on almost all private sales of firearms (a sale is not private if it is recorded by a functionary of the government), and a ban on sales of firearms to adults less than 21 years of age.

The act was passed very quickly. Senator Richard Sears voted against it. It will be challenged in the courts.

The reform law to facilitate the sale of the guns that had accumulated under police and state control was part of the new law, and is being implemented. Online auctions to Federal Firearms Licensed dealers have been conducted by the Agency of Administration, Buildings and General Services, Surplus Property.

A provision in the law allows for innocent owners to retrieve their property from the state. They have to prove their innocence before the firearms will be released to them. From legislature.vermont.gov:

§ 2306. RIGHTS OF INNOCENT OWNER

Nothing contained in subsection 2305(b) of this title shall prejudice the rights of the bona fide owner of any unlawful firearm, the disposition of which is governed by that subsection, upon affirmative proof by him or her that he or she had no express or implied knowledge that such unlawful firearm was being or intended to be used illegally or for illegal purposes.

If the bona fide owner provides reasonable and satisfactory proof of his or her ownership and of his or her lack of express or implied knowledge to the commissioner of public safety Commissioner of Public Safety, the unlawful firearm shall be returned to him or her.

It may be difficult to prove “lack of express or implied knowledge”.

An “unlawful firearm” is defined in the legislation as one which was carried or used in violation of any federal or state law.  It is likely most of the firearms accumulated are not “unlawful firearms” under that definition.

There is a requirement to pay an undefined “storage fee”.  Storage fees could quickly outstrip the value of a firearm, depending on how they are structured. In Australia, storage fees of $25 per week were not uncommon.

The sales of stored firearms have been at the cheapest method, which yields the lowest prices. The method has been to sell by lot, 25 firearms, by email bid from federally licensed dealers.  Even with this method, the stored firearms brought in  $140 on average.

The law requires 2/3 of the net proceeds to be returned to municipalities, which send their accumulated firearms to the state for processing. It appears little money will be returned to those municipalities.

From sevendaysvt.com:

In June, the Department of Public Safety transferred 366 guns to the new secure storage room, and the email bidding process for the first 25-gun lot began. In the months since, Cole’s department has completed nine sales and off-loaded 225 firearms, bringing in $31,514. Given the costs of administering the program, Cole expects it will still end up costing the department money.

It is not surprising that a government bureaucracy would use up nearly all the money it receives from firearms auctions.

No firearms from municipalities have been sold by the Building and General Services, Surplus Property,  as of mid December 2019.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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Skippy
Skippy
1 year ago

If the government were in charge of the desert, they would run out of sand in 5 years

Whodaty
Whodaty
1 year ago

RoyD, Speaking of demographics, when I was growing up in Brooklyn, I was always jealous of stories one of my buddies would tell of spending summers in VT where ANYONE could walk around with a handgun on their hip, no issue, no license, just freedom and responsibility. VT was always on my list of good potential places to move. So you are correct, check the *current* demographics before you move, and don’t rely on history. BTW my friend has always been a law abiding citizen.

MICHAEL J
MICHAEL J
1 year ago

Government run anything is medocre at best. Any government agency is socialism in its purest form where you have no options even though we know anyone outside of these bureaucracies could perform more efficiently and competitively. Why not contract licensed firearms dealers who know guns and are held in strict compliance? What is the incentive for any government agencies to perform and who’s going to make sure they do?

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
1 year ago

So politicians in Vermont, over a number of years, stole peoples’ legal property, and held that property hostage so that they could institute universal background checks, a ban on standard capacity magazines, and a ban on sales to adults less than 21 years old, and then sell the private property for money that goes to the state. Well Vermonters?

tetejaun
tetejaun
1 year ago

Hey, Dean Weingarten, you deliberately forgot to add that the Parkland school shooting was done by a DEMOCRAT. Nikolas Cruz, who shot up the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was a member of the “Young Democrats” club there. You left out that Cruz had TOLD everyone he was going to come to school and shoot them and both the school and police ignored him. FACTS, important facts, help one understand the cost of communist democrats in our midst as they employ the Hegelian Dialectic. For those of you who do not know, the Hegelian Dialectic was invented by communist Georg… Read more »

Heart of Texas
Heart of Texas
1 year ago
Reply to  tetejaun

Your rant has nothing to do with the story.

Link
Link
1 year ago
Reply to  tetejaun

Any proof that the shooter was registered to vote ?
Or what party ??

RoyD
RoyD
1 year ago

Demographics should be a consideration when choosing a place to live.

The other Jim
The other Jim
1 year ago

Sounds like crap. Many of these guns the police took unlawfully and refuse to return them. The people to which the police took them from are poor and/or don’t have the money to hire a lawyer to get their property back. The bill should state that the police have to make a great effort and detail the same to return the property to the persons they have taken the property from (if a prohibited person then next of kin i.e children, Parents, etc ).