Almanac

News - September 25, 2013

Supes reject plan to allow Sheriff's Office to sell guns

• Under a revised proposal, only officers could purchase their own service weapons.

by Chris Cooney

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors rejected part of a proposed ordinance amendment Sept. 17 that would have allowed the Sheriff's Office to sell more than 700 guns.

Supervisor Don Horsley, who served as San Mateo County sheriff for nearly 14 years, said the original intent of the ordinance amendment was to allow sworn officers of the Sheriff's Office to buy their assigned service weapons once they become outdated and are replaced by newer models. "When you're a peace officer and you carry a gun, it becomes a part of you," Mr. Horsley said.

During the coming year, the Sheriff's Office reported, more than 300 service weapons will be replaced as the department purchases new Smith & Wesson guns.

"As a result, the sheriff's office inventory of 355 current duty pistols and approximately 400 old duty firearms will no longer be needed," Sheriff Greg Munks said in a letter to the board.

The current ordinance, which was adopted in 1999, prohibits the county and county law enforcement officials from selling any county-owned firearm.

The proposed amendment would have allowed the Sheriff's Office to sell its old duty guns deemed "surplus property" to sworn officers of the Sheriff's Office, firearm manufacturers or another law enforcement agency.

The Sheriff's Office said the sale of its old duty guns could raise up to $150,000 for the department.

Supervisor Dave Pine said he was concerned that selling old duty firearms to gun manufacturers would risk sending more guns into "the general population."

Supervisor Adrienne Tissier said the amendment should include language that would allow only deputies to buy their own service weapons, and not multiple firearms. "I don't want anyone to be able to buy four or five guns," she said.

After a brief discussion, the board agreed to pull the proposed amendment and rewrite it to specify that sworn duty officers will be able to purchase their own service weapons for a nominal fee once they are replaced with newer models.

The new proposal would not permit the county to sell retired weapons to gun manufacturers or other agencies.

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