U.S. to stop selling public used firearms

January 06, 1994|By Newsday

WASHINGTON -- After allowing federal agencies to dump more than 60,000 used firearms into the civilian marketplace for more than a decade, the General Services Administration has announced that it is halting the practice.

The GSA decision came after Newsday asked the agency for a list of weapons it had allowed federal departments to sell to civilian firearms dealers. Such sales are banned by federal regulation unless the GSA grants a waiver.

Since 1982, the agency said, it had granted 20 such waivers -- 13 in the past three years alone -- for a total of 61,901 guns. Affected by the decision are pending requests for the sale of 37,000 guns.

"This directive means they will not get any waivers," spokesman Hap Connors said yesterday.

He said the pending waiver requests were from the FBI, Customs, State Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. An undetermined number of waivers granted but not yet acted on have also been revoked. As a result, the guns will be destroyed.

In a news release issued yesterday GSA Administrator Roger W. Johnson is quoted as saying: "After consulting with administration officials, I have issued orders today that have revoked all previously issued waivers and determined that the (GSA) will not in the future grant waivers from existing regulations prohibiting the donation, sale or exchange of firearms."

Mr. Connors said that during the past 12 years the GSA had allowed a number of agencies, ranging from the Department of Agriculture to the Secret Service, to sell their firearms to offset the purchase cost of new guns or to defray administrative costs. Almost every federal agency allows some employees -- from security personnel to inspectors -- to carry weapons.

Not all waivers, however, resulted in the sale of guns.

The FBI, for example, said that it had received a waiver in 1990 to sell .38-caliber and .357-caliber Magnum service revolvers because the bureau anticipated replacing them with new semiautomatic pistols.

FBI spokesman John Kundts said that hitches developed in the planned conversion to pistols and that the waiver lapsed. More recently, he said, the FBI had been negotiating with the GSA for permission to have private dealers buy used FBI revolvers and resell them to current or former FBI agents.

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