Marana police are selling their inventory of confiscated guns in an effort to clear evidence storage space and raise money for the department.
The department has invited licensed gun dealers in Pima County to bid on 124 firearms it confiscated in investigations. The guns all have serial numbers and are no longer needed as evidence because the cases with which they were connected have concluded.
A new state law requires that any legal weapons that come into a city or county’s possession must be sold rather than be destroyed.
Marana Police Department Sgt. Jose Alvarez said he believes this is the department’s first attempt at selling weapons.
“We’ve been trying to do this for a couple of years and have been figuring out the legalities of the best way to do that,” he said. “This is the best way we’ve come up with to do it.”
Because it takes the department so long to accumulate enough guns to hold an auction, it could be years before there’s another one.
“We can’t do it too often,” Alvarez said, noting that some of the guns have been held as evidence for a decade or more. “It takes a long period of time to collect more. Ideally, we get the guns back to the owner if possible.”
The town sent a letter dated Oct. 8 to licensed gun dealers in the county, requesting bids for the entire set of guns. Dealers will examine the guns from 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 13 at the Marana Police Department, 11555 W. Civic Center Drive, then must submit bids by 5 p.m. Nov. 22.
Police will notify the winning bidder Nov. 26. The buyer must pay for the guns via certified check by Dec. 11.
Proceeds will go to the police department, which hasn’t yet determined how it will spend the money.
Other local law enforcement agencies say they have no current plans to sell their guns. Lt. John Teachout, an Oro Valley Police Department spokesman, said the department lacks enough of an inventory to hold a sale.
“We haven’t sold any yet, and we don’t have plans to right now,” he said. “If the time comes that we have a volume of guns sitting on our shelf, we will make the decision whether or not to sell them.”
Sgt. Chris Widmer, a Tucson Police Department spokesman, and Deputy Tracy Suitt, a spokesman for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, said there are no current plans to sell confiscated guns.
“We do not take confiscated weapons and sell them to the public,” Suitt said.
Darrell Murray, of Murray’s Firearms and Ammunition in Oro Valley, said Marana police contacted him to see if he was interested in bidding on the guns. Although he’s not going to participate because the volume is too large for him, he’s happy the department is selling the weapons.
“I see a big benefit,” he said. “Once there’s no further need to keep them as evidence, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be sold for the benefit of the officers. I think it’s the best way to do it — sell to licensed dealers and get the guns back in their hands. There’s nothing wrong with that.”