Steve Chapman at the well-named Reason magazine reports on an old folly in Chicongo, newly brought to light:
In the course of their duties, Chicago police come into possession of all sorts of contraband: jewelry, video games, bicycles, cars. They sell the stuff through online auctions that are open to the public. They also confiscate some 10,000 firearms each year, with an estimated value of $2 million. They sell them and put the $2 million through a shredder.
Just kidding. It would be insane to shred large stacks of perfectly good money. What they actually do is destroy the guns. That way, there’s no money to destroy.
via Demolishing Guns and Common Sense – Reason.com.
Chapman finds defenders of this inane policy, naturally: people who have sunk their bloodsucking tackle into the public jugular: Adam Collins, the sort of cop who makes you glad he works in an office talking to reporters instead of on the street abusing citizens, and Mark Iris, a university professor (not the one late of the FBI’s Most Wanted list, though). It comes down to an irrational frame of reference:
There is a common assumption in Chicago that guns are the equivalent of free-roaming cobras, being lethal and unmanageable by any means except elimination. The more guns, in this view, the more murders and mayhem.
That’s not an unusual position among the left, which tends to excuse the criminal and blame the tool. It’s more than just the old common-law concept of the deodand. Some writers plunge down the rabbit hole, anthropomorphizing the guns and ascribing to them a personalized malevolence only proven in humans and higher primates: “For the firearms behind some of Chicago’s most violent crimes, death row is a West Side warehouse….” one Rachel Cromidas emotes. Remember, Officer Krupke, the criminal’s just “misunnerstood.” It’s his weapon that’s “behind his violent crime.” Maybe it displayed Satanic runes upon its blue steel surface, or whispered phrases from Steven King’s nightmares on moonless nights. The gun must pay, else we might punish the operator.
Chapman, to be sure, doesn’t buy this.
….Guns in the hands of criminals are bound to lead to senseless bloodshed. But guns in the hands of upstanding citizens are no more likely to be abused than chainsaws or baseball bats.
In five words: a gun is a tool. We reported today on the criminal use of a machete in the Gun-Free Zone of New York City. And we recall one day in South America, watching a hard-working campesino cut hay with just such a tool. Over several hours, he cut so much hay that he dulled the blade; he then sharpened it on a stone (not a sharpening-stone; a plain ordinary river rock with one of its rounded surfaces ground flat by years of machete-sharpening duty). And went back to cutting hay.
We doubt that diligent farmer ever hurt a hair on anybody’s head, and it wouldn’t occur to him to do it with his machete. So what’s the difference between him and the guy in New York? Who had the exact same tool, but used it to do unspeakable evil?
The difference is entirely within the brain housing group of the tool user. You can’t get anywhere by examining the tool. Chicago shreds $2 million a year because they’re afraid to face the human implications of the possibility their Iraq-beating death toll is not due to the tools.
Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S). His focus was on weapons: their history, effects and employment. He started WeaponsMan.com in 2011 and operated it until he passed away in 2017. His work is being preserved here at the request of his family.
9 thoughts on “Shredding the Idea of Shredding Guns”
This is how it use to be… in New Jersey, no less. My father is retired NJSP, retired in 1982 after 28 years. When a court case was over, the Trooper got the murder weapon (or so he said ;-)). I can remember having quite a few shotguns stashed in the attic. Some were given away to other Troopers in 1969 for helping paint the house. Some of the barrels were used as our property corner marker stakes for years, until the a town wide re-survey took place a few years ago. Quite a few others ended up in a certain bay near Atlantic City, after my brother and I dismantled them and made tiny artificial reefs… I’ve still got a rather nice Colt .32 Pocket Positive with my Dad’s evidence mark scratched on the side, a little 14 year old girl died at the hand of a shop owner scaring away thugs with a warning shot… (I’m pretty sure these tools were used in the 50’s and early 60’s, I don’t know when the “good” deal ended.)
As wasteful as this is, would you want to own a gun that any police department, much less the Chicago PD, had documented as having been used in a crime? Do you have any confidence at all that it would be properly recorded as having been sold to an innocent civilian after the criminal case it was involved in was resolved?
Well, since I know how accurate the NFARTR isn’t, I’m not too confident the sort of unsworn clerks who manage most of these things at PDs have any greater work ethic and skills.
The destruction of the guns is a purely symbolic act, done to etch into the brains of the impressionable the message that guns are evil and should be destroyed.
The fact that destroying old guns instead of selling them increases the demand for new guns is something that is never considered. It is the symbolism that is important to these people, the ability to control the ideas in other people’s brains.
Destroying the guns is pure political theater.
First rate comment, Dean. It’s symbolic, and driven by magical thinking. “She’s a witch! Burn her!” and there’s no one around to ask if she weighs the same as a duck….
California is the same way. I know because I was the architect of the property and evidence tracking system for a major Southern California county Sheriff’s department. As ridiculous was a requirement that to return a gun to a legal owner (say it was stolen but later recovered), lengthy, time consuming forms needed to be filled with the California DOJ, a process that could easily take 6 months. It wasn’t uncommon for a gun to be turned into highway steel in the interim. That said, very few of the thousands of weapons I saw were anything close to something your average gun owner would be interested in. Let’s just say that your typical meth addict isn’t overly interested in careful maintenance of firearms.
Boy, that last statement’s true. The only tine a crim ever has a decent weapon is when it’s relatively freshly stolen. Usually they’re ancient beaters, or cheap junkers.
Compare this with the destruction of used cars in the “Cash for Clunkers” program.
There seems to be some sort of magical thinking in the minds of leftists that require them to act out against the inanimate objects that they perceive as sources of evil.
I’m an IT guy, but I’ve worked around the military and law enforcement at various times over my career (I was a 95B MP years ago.) Seeing guns in an evidence room, knowing how many of them were used for horrific things, did a couple of things to change how I view guns. First, I lost my fascination with them. I couldn’t look at them as a cool toy that went boom or something to make me feel like a bad*ss. I saw guns instead as a deadly tool. Their “cool” factor evaporated and I now saw them with a cold, sober seriousness. But rather than going the magical thinking route like many anti gunners, I saw the futility and danger of trying to ban guns. The criminal and the government have access to an almost endless supply of weaponry. In the three factor gun equation, laws will only impact one: the peaceful, law abiding civilian. If you don’t want to be at the mercy of the other armed groups, it is wise to arm yourself, train with your tool, and keep them secure.
Message to Law Enforcement: civilian gun owners are not your enemy. We would highly prefer to see you as an ally, knowing we have each others back.