News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Thursday, Oct. 24th, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Almost 15 hundred guns are up for sale after the Richmond County Sheriff's Office says they have no more room.
The sheriff's office has collected almost 5,000 guns since the 1990's and with more guns coming in off the streets every day they have to make space.
"You're talking about 20 years of accumulation," said Sheriff Richard Roundtree.
Some of them were confiscated from crimes, others found abandoned, and even some retired police weapons, but all of them are taking up space.
"Weapons are coming in weekly or daily from regular cases and still from confiscated cases," said Roundtree.
With no where to put them the sheriff's office decided it's time to make room by getting rid of some of them.
"Our initial response was we were going to try to destroy them. Get a court order and destroy the weapons, which they have done in the past, which the law allowed us to do," explained Roundtree.
That law changed last year.
"The government was spending resources and energy to destroy valuable commodities," said dealer Steven Fishman.
He lobbied for the law back in 2011.
"I would say that the statement of destroying all these firearms would be like someone going to he sheriff and saying if a car has been caught speeding you need to destroy it," explained Fishman.
Now the sheriff's office is left with just two options; keep or sell.
"This frees up the space and then also this becomes an additional revenue stream from the county," explained Roundtree.
The 1400 weapons range from hunting rifles to vintage handguns and even retired police weapons. They fill nearly two dozen baskets and line seven walls.
The weapons will be sold all together for one bid to licensed distributors only.
"Some of them have good resale value, some of them have exceptional retail value and some of them have very poor retail value," said Fishman.
Even though Fishman hasn't seen the guns he says he doesn't plan to bid on them because you never know what you'll end up with. "It is a hodgepodge, it is a Hungarian goulash, it is a major league vegetable soup," said Fishman.
None of the guns being sold have been used in violent crimes or homicides.
You had to go through the procurement office to register to bid. Only around 10 distributors have signed up and only one from our area. They will get a look at the guns Friday and give sealed bids. Who gets the guns will be decided in November.
The money from the sale will go into the general fund for the city. Commissioners will decide where it goes, but the sheriff says he plans to ask for the money.
If this is successful, Sheriff Roundtree says we could see more sales in the future.