The Hidden Gun Market: Weapons Intended for Destruction Are Recycled and Passed into Civilian Hands
Flint, Michigan, made headlines in September for announcing its policy of never reselling firearms, promising that 68 assault weapons collected in a gun buyback would be incinerated. However, an investigation by The New York Times has revealed a different story.
Instead of being melted down, the weapons ended up with a private company that raises millions of dollars by taking firearms from law enforcement agencies, destroying a single piece of each gun with the serial number stamped on it, and selling the rest as nearly complete gun kits. Online buyers can easily replace what is missing and reconstitute the gun.
The hidden aspect of the government’s role in fueling gun proliferation and a gun culture that has divided the country has been exposed. A growing industry has been offering to destroy weapons used in crimes, handed over in buybacks, or replaced by police force upgrades. However, it has been revealed that these communities are fueling a secondary arms market, in which weapons intended for destruction are recycled and passed into the hands of civilians, often without background checks.
The extent of this industry and its impact has shocked some public officials and gun safety advocates. The Rev. Chris Yaw, whose Episcopal church outside Detroit has sponsored buybacks with local officials, expressed shock and dismay after learning how the process worked.
This little-known but profitable corner of the firearms economy exists because the approved method of destroying a gun contains a loophole that has been exploited. This practice raises concerns about the spread of so-called ghost guns when combined with an untraceable receiver or frame, leading to illegal firearms falling into the wrong hands.
Flint officials, like others across Michigan, were unaware that the Michigan State Police was one of the biggest customers of the dismantling company responsible for handling the city’s unwanted firearms. The city stated that they were unaware the weapons were not incinerated and that they would try to clarify the disposal agreement.
These findings have raised serious questions about the practices of the gun disposal industry and its impact on society. It has also brought to light the close relationship between governments and the firearms economy, highlighting the need for closer scrutiny and regulation of such practices. The investigation has sparked concern about the government’s role in contributing to the proliferation of guns and the potential for negative outcomes associated with recycled weapons.