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New Law Tells Police To Save Their Guns

A Ruger Single Six. Sturm, Ruger & Co. is opening a gun manufacturing plant in Rockingham County.
szuppo via creative commons

A new state law puts more restrictions on when law enforcement can destroy confiscated guns. 

Senate Bill 443 says police must now resell firearms or use them for training purposes within their departments if they can not return them to their original owners.  Authorities can only destroy confiscated guns if they are damaged or don't have a legible serial number. 

The Wilmington Police Department helped with a gun buyback program last week in which it received 67 firearms, including one assault rifle.  Wilmington Police spokeswoman Linda Rawley says the department's policy has been to destroy them.

"There's nothing to say you won't turn around and give it to someone who shouldn't have it, so there's never a guarantee.  And I think that's why it's always been safest for us to be able to destroy them," Rawley says.

"But we will follow the law and we will make sure that we abide by whatever is necessary."

Rawley says the department is still determining how the new law will affect its stockpile of weapons.  The bill got wide bipartisan support in the legislature.  Supporters say the change is fiscally responsible.  Opponents say it puts potentially dangerous weapons back on the street.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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