For decades, weapons confiscated by the police in Texas were supposed to be used for law enforcement purposes — or else destroyed. Starting next month, police departments across the state will be allowed to sell some of them.
Some local departments have already been selling confiscated weapons, operating under a gray area of existing law, said T. Edwin Walker, president of Texas Law Shield, which provides legal services to Texas gun owners.
House Bill 1421, which passed during the last legislative session, formally permits law enforcement officials to sell found or unclaimed weapons to licensed firearms dealers. They can also sell confiscated weapons that are left unclaimed after cases that were never prosecuted or did not result in a conviction. In cases that do result in a conviction, police departments keep the firearms as evidence in case they are needed for appeals.
The new rule gives law enforcement another option, said State Representative Charles Perry, Republican of Lubbock and the author of the bill. “It has a fiscal impact in a positive way, and it makes sense if the weapons are in good shape.”
It is unclear how well the measure will meet its stated goal, which Mr. Walker said is allowing the police to “recoup some money, to put some money back in their budget.” Police departments in large Texas cities like San Antonio, Houston and Austin, which destroyed hundreds of guns in 2012, have said they would not participate.