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The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office is selling 67 guns that were seized by the office or surrendered to it during the past several years.

Sealed bids for the guns, which are all being sold collectively as a single lot, will be accepted until noon on Wednesday.

Bidders must have a Special Occupational Tax Class III federal firearm dealer's license from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Sgt. Taylor Sperle, who is managing the sale for the sheriff’s office, said the guns will go to the “highest responsible and authorized bidder." The sheriff’s office reserves the right to reject any or all bids.

Among the 67 guns, there are 42 handguns and 25 long guns. They run the gamut of makes, models and calibers, including pistols, revolvers, standard shotguns and rifles, a muzzle-loading rifle and AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, plus others.

Sperle said the guns were seized during investigations, or by court order, or were voluntarily surrendered by people who came into contact with law enforcement.

The sheriff’s office stockpiles the guns until determining there are enough for a sale, and then uses the proceeds to buy equipment for the office, Sperle said. The office’s last gun sale was a number of years ago and was combined with a sale of other property, according to Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Helene Duhamel, who said no record of the proceeds from that gun sale were immediately available.

Sales of seized guns by law enforcement agencies are common across the country and have been criticized by advocates of tighter gun controls. Last year, an analysis by The Associated Press in the state of Washington found that among nearly 6,000 firearms that were used in crimes and then sold by Washington law enforcement agencies since 2010, about a dozen of the guns later ended up as evidence in a new investigation.

Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, in an interview with the Journal, explained his rationale for selling rather than destroying guns seized by his office.

“We understand it’s not the gun’s fault that it may have been used in a crime,” Thom said. “We don’t believe in just destroying a weapon.”

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Contact Seth Tupper at seth.tupper@rapidcityjournal.com

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