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Westmoreland Co. Coroner Auctioning Off Guns Used In Suicides

GREENSBURG (KDKA/AP) - A local coroner is auctioning off guns used in suicides and accidental shooting deaths.

Corner Ken Bacha says the Nov. 8 surplus weapons sale is Westmoreland County government's first since his father was coroner in the 1980s.

A total of 97 pistols and long guns will be auctioned off by the Westmoreland County Coroner. Most were found at the scene of suicides. Others are from accidental shooting deaths.

He says state law requires local governments sell off unclaimed property. Proceeds will help fund county government.

Every year in this country, 750,000 people attempt to take their own lives. More than half of all suicides use firearms.

In his 35 years of auctioneering, Bill Anderson has never worked with a coroner, but he's getting lots of interest.

"It was exciting, sad, a lot of emotions," he said. "Getting calls from all over the country, asking how to buy guns and how they can participate in the sale."

But the state law requiring local governments to sell off unclaimed property, like the guns, also regulates would-be out-of state buyers who are calling from Florida and Wisconsin.

"They have to get a registered Pennsylvania gun dealer to bid for them, and they have to buy it off of them," said Anderson

Many of the gun manufacturers are prominent - Colt, Winchester, Remington, Mauser, Smith and Wesson.

"Some everyday guns, there's some Saturday Night Specials, there's some nice collectibles, and there's some nice firearms for somebody who wants to be a sportsman," Anderson said.

Winning bidders will have to wait until Monday while background checks are run. The auction will be held at the Westmoreland County maintenance shed in Hempfield Township.

If you want a preview, show up at 9 a.m. Bidding starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8.

Proceeds will go into the county's general fund.

But there's no denying that each of these guns ended a life, and broke the hearts of the people left behind.

"I expect it to do well, because firearms always do well at auction, but it's hard to say," said Anderson.

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