Gun Storage Presents Problem For Vermont Law Enforcement

Sgt. Jason Covey sits at a conference table in the Middlebury Police Department offices. Displayed out in front of him are three guns. Each one has a little tag attached by a string, looped around the trigger like a price tag, with information about how the department acquired the gun.

“This we’ve had since 2005,” Covey explains, lifting a pistol from the table. “It was a firearm used in a violent crime in Middlebury.”

Putting the first gun down, he picks up another.

“This one we’ve had since 2000 and it’s a firearm that the serial number was purposely defaced and cannot be restored and that gun can legally never be released. So the only thing that can be done with it is stored forever or destroyed.”

These are a couple of guns the department would rather not have. But there are plenty of others that the department would like to be rid of too.

“Off the top of my head, 17 that could be destroyed today,” Covey says with a sigh.

These guns have to be stored appropriately, tagged, sometimes kept in climate controlled areas and preserved in the same shape as when the department acquired them. But they serve no evidentiary purpose.

“They take up a significant amount of space in an already packed evidence room that holds evidence and property from all our cases,” according to Covey. “That is a storage issue.”

Why can’t the department just destroy these guns? Covey says it’s complicated.

“I’m not aware of a specific rule that says we cannot,” he explains. “But the difficulties in doing so would be complying with all … Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms regulations, and having the appropriate means to completely destroy the weapon.”

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