City officials respond to Memphis gun connection report

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis city leaders called for action after the Associated Press reported two guns used in high-profile shootings at the Pentagon and a Las Vegas courthouse were seized in Memphis criminal cases.

On January 4th, a gunman killed a security guard in a Las Vegas courthouse.  Two months later, another gunman opened fire, wounding two Pentagon officers.  A trace of both weapons revealed the guns came from the Memphis Police evidence room.

Memphis City Councilman Myron Lowery, in Washington, D.C. on official business, said Memphis is all over the news there.

"Any time a gun has been involved in a crime and an individual has been convicted, there's no reason a city should sell that gun so that it can be involved in another crime," Lowery said.

However, on the day of the Pentagon shooting, Governor Phil Bredesen signed a law saying no Tennessee police department can destroy a confiscated gun unless it is damaged.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is planning a discussion with the police director and council to fight that law.

"If necessary, we'll ask the judges to let us hold the guns until the law can be changed," Wharton said.

Police Director Larry Godwin did not respond, but an e-mail he sent to Lowery said "we ... followed protocol.  We trade good weapons to licensed, registered law enforcement manufacturers.  They, in turn, can sell the weapons to a registered firearms deal.  They, in turn, can sell to a citizen."

Wharton said selling confiscated guns was not worth the trade-off when officers put their lives on the line to get guns off the streets.

"We may earn across the state $100,000 on this," Wharton said.  "I don't know a life that's worth $100,000.  You ask the people in Vegas and ask those officers at the Pentagon."

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