New Castle County Police to destroy confiscated firearms [video]

More than 140 guns seized by the New Castle County Police Department over the past year will be destroyed in an effort to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals.

Chief Elmer Setting explained that the department is officially reinstating a policy to destroy all firearms that come back to the department from closed criminal cases.

In the past, the department had traded the weapons back to gun dealers for parts and money, but Setting said they’d rather have the weapons off the street and find new ways to generate funds for the budget.

“There is no amount of money that is worth a human life,” said Setting. “So we’re going to burn these weapons so they can never end up in the wrong hands ever again. We are not opposed to law abiding citizens bearing arms, or the right to bear arms. We are sending a very simple message that there are people who should not have access to weapons. Some of these weapons are mass killing machines, and they have no place in society.  We are going to destroy these weapons with the knowledge that they will never end up in the wrong hands again.”

This isn’t the first time the department has destroyed confiscated firearms. The process was originally introduced by former New Castle County Police Chief and current County Executive Tom Gordon more than a decade ago.

“It was novel at that point to destroy weapons because you can get quite a bit of money on the market by selling these back to gun dealers,” said Gordon. “And, back then it was necessary and very popular program as I’m sure it will be today.”

Recently, Setting said the department has seen an increase in the number of guns found during routine police calls and taking a loaded weapon off a suspect is common for officers.

“We are seeing more guns when we’re in the performance of our duties, and we have to assess that situation individually,” said Setting. “We have to see who that person is, why they have a weapon and what they’re doing with it.”

The confiscated firearms will be destroyed as soon as possible, according to Setting.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal