Hundreds of guns seized by police in Upper Darby, Pa., near Philadelphia, are back in circulation, many after police supplied them to two of the region’s most notorious gun shops, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The guns included illegal sawed-off shotguns and assault rifles. Last month, special-education students found one of Upper Darby’s confiscated guns as they collected litter near their school. One dealers who sold Upper Darby’s weapons is in prison for selling guns to felons. “I don’t care if you kill a cop,” he told an undercover federal agent wearing a wire. The second shop owner lost his license after authorities linked guns he sold to 19 Philadelphia homicides, including the killing of a police officer.
“This involves hundreds of guns,” said retired police detective Ray Britt, one of four current and former officers who told the Inquirer that police routinely resold seized firearms. “Lots of people knew it was happening, and some officers tried to stop it,” Britt said. “But it went on for years.” Upper Darby suspended the practice in 2005, shortly after federal agents raided one gun shop and quickly traced a sawed-off shotgun to the Police Department. On Friday, the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, citing information provided by the Inquirer, referred the matter to the Pennsylvania attorney general for investigation. Agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are conducting a broader investigation. Under state law, police departments may resell seized or donated guns. ATF is trying to determine whether the proceeds from the guns went back to the township – or into the pockets of the officers.