March 15th, 2010
07:46 PM ET

Pentagon shooting: Gun was once in police possession

A gun recovered from this month's shooting at the Pentagon was once in the possession of the Memphis Police Department, a law enforcement official told CNN.

Memphis police seized the Ruger 9mm handgun during a traffic stop in 2005 and in 2008 traded it to a distributor in Georgia. It passed through a distributor in Pennsylvania and a dealer in Las Vegas, Nevada, before being sold at a gun show, after which the trail goes cold.

Mayor A.C. Wharton of Memphis, a Democrat, said he would review the Police Department's practice of selling or trading guns in police possession, in spite of the revenue it brings.

"I just don't want our city having any role in getting a confiscated gun back on the streets," he told CNN affiliate WREG on Sunday.

Some cities destroy weapons that come into their possession. A former New York Police Department official said the city sends as many as 20,000 guns a year to be smelted for scrap metal.

But a bill signed March 4 – the same day as the shooting – bars Tennessee police from destroying contraband guns. It says they must either sell such weapons or use them – not destroy them – unless a police official "certifies to the court the weapon is inoperable or unsafe."

- From CNN's Dugald McConnell

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  1. Roger

    If NYC smelts 20,000 guns a year, and we conservatively estimate the average value of each gun as $250, then that's $5,000,000 in firearms going up in smoke every year. The money the scrap brings in couldn't be more than 2% of that figure. $5 million certainly won't solve New York's budget woes, but it's unfathomable to think that a municipality so far in debt would literally be burning free money.

    March 15, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |