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L.A. County bans departments from auctioning surplus firearms, mandates destruction instead

The new policy also requires departments with extra ammunition to hand it over to the Sheriff’s Department for use in training


Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

By Rebecca Ellis
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Eight months after Los Angeles County probation officials attempted to auction off hundreds of guns they no longer needed, county supervisors have barred all their departments from ever trying that again.

The supervisors unanimously approved a policy Tuesday that would require all departments to destroy firearms they no longer need rather than profit from selling them to the public. While the policy applies to all county departments, it would likely have the largest impact on the Probation and Sheriff’s departments.

The policy comes after The Times reported in January that the Probation Department had listed hundreds of 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistols it no longer needed on a website called GovDeals, an online auction forum where governments can sell surplus property. On Tuesday afternoon, the site was offering 10 firearms obtained through court seizure from Georgia’s Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and a rifle confiscated by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.

In late January, the Probation Department had posted on the site a “Big Lot of Firearms” — more than 300 Smith & Wesson and Beretta handguns. One such gun was going for $25,000.

The auction, held within days of the fatal mass shooting in Monterey Park, prompted outrage over how the county could have one agency profit by pushing guns back onto the streets while another agency paid residents to surrender their guns. Like many law enforcement agencies, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has hosted regular gun buybacks where residents hand over their guns in exchange for gift cards.

The Board of Supervisors at the time called the Probation Department’s auction “antithetical to the county’s values” and “highly insensitive” in the wake of a mass shooting that killed 11. They voted to ask the Internal Services Department to develop a policy to stop such sales from happening again.

“Simply put, the county should not be in the business of putting more guns out on the street,” Supervisor Hilda Solis, whose district includes Monterey Park, said at the time.

The resulting policy, which goes into effect immediately, requires all departments with excess firearms to drop off the guns at an Anaheim recycling center, which has contracted with the county to destroy surplus firearms. The new policy also requires departments with extra ammunition to hand it over to the Sheriff’s Department for use in training.

The new policy is one of several steps the county has taken in the wake of the Monterey Park shooting, which took places about eight miles from the boardroom. A month after the shooting, the county voted to ban people from carrying firearms on county property — including beaches, parks and municipal buildings — and prohibit the sale of .50-caliber handguns in unincorporated L.A. County.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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