Buffalo, NY- Police in Buffalo are planning to utilize a state law allowing them to collect the firearms of deceased owners from family members in instances when families of the deceased have not “disposed of the weapon properly.”
The New York State Police summarized this law on its website:
The person designated as the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate may lawfully possess the firearms in question for a period of up to 15 days for the sole purpose of lawfully disposing of the firearms. If this cannot be accomplished within the 15-day time frame, the weapons must be surrendered to a law enforcement agency who would then hold the weapons for safe keeping for a period not to exceed 2 years during which time the weapons may still be disposed of. If the weapons are not disposed of within that time period, they will be classified as nuisance properties and destroyed.
In a press conference last week, police said that enforcing the law will reduce the amount of firearms that end up in the hands of criminals. “We recently started a program where we’re cross referencing all the pistol permit holders with the death records, and we’re sending people out to collect the guns whenever possible so that they don’t end up in the wrong hands,” Police Commissioner Daniel Derrenda said in the conference. Derrenda claimed that families may not be aware that their deceased relative owned a firearm and “they [the firearms] end up just out on the street.”
Buffalo’s recently announced initiative is legal, but Second Amendment defenders have criticized the plan. “They’re quick to say they’re going to take the guns,” New York State Rifle & Pistol Association president Tom King told Fox News. “But they don’t tell you the law doesn’t apply to long guns, or that these families can sell [their loved one’s] pistol or apply to keep it.”
Buffalo defense attorney Dominic Saraceno voiced similar concern about police failing to inform vulnerable families of deceased gun owners that surrendering weapons is not their only option. “These gun collections can value into the hundreds of thousands,”said Saraceno. “If a police officer came to my door without a warrant signed by a judge, I’m not giving them anything. Most people don’t know that and get intimidated.”
Attorney Steve Cohen said that “the reality is, when somebody dies, the family can obtain, the state representative executor can obtain a certificate of non-destruction. They can turn these firearms into a police department and have somebody with an FFL, Federal Firearms License, a gun store, sell these weapons for the estate.”