Starting September 1, Texas law enforcement will have a new option for how they dispose of seized firearms.
Under House Bill 1421, which passed in the 83rd legislative session, law enforcements agencies will be permitted to sell confiscated weapons to licensed firearms dealers. The weapons will be sold at a public auction by either the police department holding the weapon or by a licensed auctioneer. The proceeds from the sale, after court costs and auctioneer fees are paid, will go to the department that confiscated the weapon.
Rep. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, says that the bill has a positive fiscal impact on law enforcement and “makes sense if the weapons are in good shape.”
The new law will apply to weapons that are not returned to or that are left unclaimed by the person found in possession of the weapon in cases that not result in prosecution or conviction.
Supporters of the bill claim that it will provide another source of revenue for police departments, particularly those departments in smaller, rural towns. Alice Tripp, Legislative Director for the Texas State Rifle Association, says that sales of seized property are often sources of income for these towns and that the new law “simply gives them a new avenue.”
Some law enforcement officials, however, are uncomfortable putting guns back onto the street that have been seized or used in the commission of a crime. Police departments in Houston, San Antonio and Austin, for example, have already said that they will not participate in the public sales.