Friday, March 09, 2001

Guns seized by feds bought at city auction

One police chief decries state's 'bad legislation'

By Mike Chambers
The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — Six guns purchased by undercover federal agents during an investigation into illegal firearms sales had been sold at a state-mandated gun auction, federal agents said.

        The guns were part of 545 firearms purchased by undercover agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms during an 18-month investigation into illegal firearms trafficking, said ATF spokesman Don York.

        Among the guns was a .38-caliber revolver first confiscated by Lexington Police in 1997 during a domestic-violence dispute.

        Lexington Police Chief Larry Walsh, who was a vocal opponent of a General Assembly bill to force cities to turn guns over for auction, said that “bad legislation” has finally come back to haunt police.

        “It is exactly what I expected would start happening,” Walsh said. “Eventually it's going to start hurting the people it was supposed to protect.”

        Proceeds of the gun auctions are to be used to buy body armor for police agencies.

        Lexington has turned over 717 firearms to the Kentucky State Police for auction since the law was enacted, a police spokeswoman said.

        Lawmakers passed a law in 1998 requiring the guns be auctioned by the state Finance Cabinet and the money be used to purchase body armor for officers.

        Police departments in Louisville and Lexington stockpiled their weapons in protest until the General Assembly passed a law in 2000 to require a 90-day deadline for weapons to be turned over.


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