By a vote of 28-22, the Indiana State Senate on January 29 approved SB 229 , which prohibits cities, municipalities and police departments from conducting the programs in which money or cash vouchers are paid for guns (often with no questions asked) and the firearms are subsequently destroyed.
The measure now moves to the Indiana House for action. The bill "prohibits a local unit of government, including a law enforcement agency, from conducting a firearm buy-back program … and establishes a procedure to permit certain individuals whose firearms have been retained by a law enforcement agency to have the firearms sold at auction and the proceeds, less the costs of sale, returned to the individual." The primary sponsor of SB 229 is Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville). It was authored by Sen. Johnny Nugent (R-Lawrenceburg), who is also a board member of the National Rifle Association.
Sen. Tomes told The Times of Munster it doesn't make sense for police to destroy guns obtained through buy-back programs or other means when most guns have value that could be put to better use. "I'm not trying to micro manage local government here," Tomes said. "But I don't know why we would tell the citizens of any town, ‘We're going to waste your money whether you like it or not.'"
SB 229 requires proceeds derived from the public auction of any confiscated guns be spent to purchase firearms, ammunition or safety vests for police departments. Additionally, it specifies a law enforcement agency may not destroy firearms in its possession unless the serial number has been obliterated.
Critics (which include this writer) of the well-intentioned but misguided city and police department programs argue the term, "gun buy-back" is a misnomer, because firearms collected by participating law enforcement agencies were never owned by the city or government in the first place.
In addition, it's unlikely the programs that distribute cash or merchandise vouchers for firearms are truly removing them from the hands of criminals or making communities safer by allegedly "taking guns off the street."