In New York City, where taking illegal handguns off the streets is high on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's agenda, thousands of firearms make it into the hands of law enforcement officers each year, says the New York Times. Once their owners have been prosecuted, the guns must be destroyed. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives periodically takes the guns to a scrap metal processing plant in Elmsford, N.Y., about about 20 miles north of Manhattan. There they are chopped up into tiny pieces and sold for about 25 cents a pound.
The steel is ultimately used to build, say, iron water pipes, reinforcement bars, chain-link fences, or appliances. Around the nation, police forces devise creative ways to dispose of confiscated guns. Oregon’s state police crushed guns with sledgehammers “to render them inoperable,” until about 12 years ago when police departments started sending them to an incinerator, said Ronald Ruecker, the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, who is the director of public safety for Sherwood, Or. Boston sends its guns to a foundry to be “boiled down and turned into sewer caps,” said a police spokesman. Los Angeles sends theirs to be melted down at a military base in the desert. Some departments sell or auction guns and use the revenue to buy new guns for officers, a practice that has raised questions about whether the weapons would simply wind up back in the hands of criminals.