History of gun used in two federal shootings

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Guns used in two deadly shootings at the Pentagon and in Las Vegas were traced back to the Memphis Police Department.

The guns were originally seized in criminal cases, but ended up back on the streets.

Police turn over guns used in crimes to the court system.  The court system then turns over the guns to the Sheriff's Office.

In 2006, Sheriff Mark Luttrell pioneered Shelby County's program to destroy confiscated guns.

He says the gun in the Vegas shooting got back out on the street a year earlier.

Luttrell is alarmed by the new law that could force him to put guns used in crimes back on the streets.

"We just decided right around 2005-2006 to start destroying them with the exception of service weapons," he said.

The Sheriff supports the right to bear arms, but he's uncomfortable re-selling guns used in crimes.

He says the sheriff's office follows gun laws to the T, but he's disheartened to hear two guns in federal shootings were originally confiscated by Memphis Police.

The Mossberg 500 shotgun used in the deadly Las Vegas courthouse shooting got back on the streets before Luttrell changed procedures.

We traced the gun's path:

1. A criminal court order put the gun in sheriff's office custody in 2002.

2. In 2005, they traded it to a Massachusetts registered ATF gun dealer: Accurate Interstate Arms.

3. In return, the Sheriff's office got money for updated service weapons.

4. Accurate Interstate Arms sold it to a dealer in Dewey, Arizona in 2008.

5. The gunman bought the gun at a Las Vegas gun show.

The court system hangs on to each gun used in a criminal case for one year after that case is closed.

For the last four years, they've been disposing of those guns. But a new law says they cannot destroy confiscated guns unless they're damaged and that worries the sheriff.

"This law that was signed in early part of March was really kind of below the radar for us. It wasn't anything we anticipated," he said.

Luttrell says he's prepared to contest the new law.

"It needs to be a little simpler process. One that's understandable, not so complex and gives local law enforcement more discretion on how to handle these weapons," Luttrell added.

Luttrell plans to talk with members of the Shelby County Legislative Delegation to see what can be done to change the law to give local law enforcement agencies the power to destroy guns used in crimes if they wish.

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