Friday, July 28, 2000

Gun sale perplexes Northern Kentucky police




By Jeff Carlton
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A new gun law requires that police agencies turn over confiscated weapons to the state police to be auctioned off to pay for bulletproof vests. But chances are the police agencies turning over the most weapons won't need the vests, Northern Kentucky police said Tuesday.

        The departments likely to supply the most guns tend to deal with the most crime. Most of them have plenty of bulletproof vests.

        “We don't get anything out of this,” said Newport Police Chief Tom Fromme. “The entire issue is perplexing to me.”

        Many police officials don't like the idea of the guns returning to the streets. Louisville police are trying to avoid turning over weapons by keeping some to teach children about gun safety. Newport is hoping to prevent some guns from returning to the street by cooperating with the Newport Housing Authority's plans to buy back handguns.

        In the past, many departments kept guns useful for law enforcement and destroyed the rest.

        Under the new gun law, which took effect July 14, police can't destroy the weapons. The Kentucky State Police must auction them off to licensed gun dealers.

        Another problem with the law, said Florence Police Chief Tom Kathman, is that some confiscated guns are either illegal to sell or of such poor quality that no one would ever buy them. Of the roughly 15 guns Florence will ship to the state police, about four are cheap “Saturday Night Specials” unlikely to be purchased by gun dealers.

        Besides, Florence already has several options for buying bulletproof vests, which typically cost about $350 and need to be replaced about every five years.

        An organization called the Kentucky League of Cities kicks in half the cost and federal grants from the Department of Justice defray the rest, Chief Kathman said.

        Kenton County police have about 15 to 20 confiscated guns to ship to the state police.

        “We're going to comply with the law and turn over our guns,” said Kenton County Police Chief Mike Browning.

       



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