Chicago suburb to raise revenue by selling guns

St. Charles, Illinois has one solution for communities looking to raise revenues: sell confiscated and used guns back to the public.

But while some Chicago-area communities host buybacks where weapons are turned in and destroyed, one suburban police department is poised to sell about 20 firearms to two licensed dealers, including some guns seized from criminals.

“There’s value in these guns,” said police Chief James Lamkin of west suburban St. Charles. “They’re not illegal guns. Quite honestly, it’s a bottom line for us.”

Though Arizona has just enacted a controversial state law requiring local departments to sell firearms that are surrendered or go unclaimed, the practice appears to be unusual in the Chicago area. The Chicago Police Department and several suburban law-enforcement agencies, as well as Illinois State Police, say they destroy weapons after they’re turned in or no longer needed as evidence…

The choice for a public agency to sell or destroy seized weapons underscores the push in many suburbs to find new ways to generate revenue without raising taxes. The issue also places St. Charles in an unusual position among law enforcement agencies at a time when the gun control debate has been re-energized by the Sandy Hook school shooting and, in Illinois, by the current effort to enact a concealed carry law before a court-imposed June deadline.

My guess is that the negative publicity from a story like this – having a fairly well-off suburb make the front page of the Chicago Tribune for selling guns – outweighs the revenue that may come from selling 20 guns. This is the sort of negative attention that suburbs try to avoid. Yet, this is what happens when many American communities are desperate to find revenues. It would be interesting to see what St. Charles residents think of this. Does this story that could make their community look bad overpower the efforts the local government is making to avoid raising taxes?

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