Two guns used in high-profile shootings at the Pentagon and a Las Vegas courthouse both came from the police and court system of Memphis, reports the Associated Press. One weapon in the Pentagon attack was seized by Memphis police from a convicted felon in a traffic stop and later traded to a gun dealer. The shotgun used in the Jan. 4 courthouse shooting in Las Vegas was sold by a judge’s order and given to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
In both cases, the weapons first went to licensed gun dealers but later came into the hands of men who were legally barred from possessing them — one a convicted felon, the other mentally ill. The use of guns once in police custody and then involved in attacks on police officers highlights a divide in gun policy. While some cities and states destroy guns obtained in criminal probes, others sell or trade the weapons to get other guns or buy equipment. On March 4, the day of the Pentagon shooting, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen signed a law removing the option of destroying confiscated guns, unless they are unsafe or don’t work, and directing that the proceeds of such court-ordered gun sales go to law enforcement instead of a city or county’s general fund.