Used Guns Get In Wrong Hands

As CBS News reported in August, most of the major cities suing gun makers are also arms dealers themselves, selling or trading tens of thousands of old police weapons that end up on the streets.

CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales continues an investigation into what really happens to old service weapons.
In January, when the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Alex Penelas, filed suit against gun manufacturers, he joined a growing national movement that now includes 27 cities and counties.

"This lawsuit is...a cry for justice on behalf of people who are no longer able to speak for themselves," said Penelas.

Since 1996, the year he took office, 125 young people have died from gunfire in his city, which is why he decided to take on the powerful gun lobby, the mayor says.

Miami-Dade County also sells its old service weapons but with tough restrictions.

"We have a very clear policy, and in fact we have a contract with a police supply company that requires that all of the guns that they take back from us be resold only to public safety or police personnel," Penelas says.

Kiesler Police Supply of Indiana, one of the nation's largest gun dealers, guaranteed in writing last year that more than a thousand Miami-Dade guns would be sold to law enforcement personnel only.

CBS News obtained printouts detailing where those guns went. Mayor Penelas had never seen the list.

According to the list, it doesn't look like the guns are staying in the law enforcement community.

"I've been assured that they are complying with our contract and that they are complying with the requirements that they be sold only within the law enforcement community," Penelas says.

Kiesler shipped 50 Miami-Dade revolvers to RNJ Guns & Ammo in California. CBS News sent a producer and cameraperson undercover to see if the guns were really being sold only to law enforcement personnel.

With no trouble they were able to legally buy two Ruger .38 caliber revolvers. The sales tags said "police trade-in" and the serial numbers match those of the Miami-Dade weapons. And while they did have to answer some questions, no one asked if they were law enforcement personnel. The gun store did not return repeated phone calls from CBS News.

Kiesler also shipped 41 police revolvers back to Miami. CBS News went to Lou's Police Supply for a comment. The owner wouldn't talk on camera, but he told CBS News all the police guns were exported to foreign security services. But according to State Department documents obtained by CBS News, some of them went to Costa Rica for resale to consumers, a clear violation of the law enforcement-only contract.

And when the guns did go to American law enforcement personnel, some went to police departments but most went to individuals, police officers, prosecutors, even part-time arson investigators, with some buying as many as 25 guns They're free to sell or trade them to anyone they please and some already have.

The mayor says he may go after Kiesler for breech of contract.

Doug Kiesler who signed the gun deal would not talk to CBS News on camera, but he says his company has done nothing wrong. "We really tried to do the right thing on these guns and it backfired on us," he says.

"We will take a very serious look at this and, if necessary, terminate the contract and just destroy our own service guns if we have to," Penelas says.

This is exactly what CBS News did with the two Miami-Dade County police revolvers it bought.
For more information on the subject, read Vince Gonzales' previous reports "When Police Are Arms Dealers" and "Police Put Guns On The Street."


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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