Police are now snooping through the homes of grieving widows in Buffalo, N.Y. in search of any weapons their recently deceased husbands may have left behind.
“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,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derrenda said, according to NBC affiliate WGRZ. “Because at times they lay out there and the family is not aware of them and they end up just out on the street.”
I imagine the conversation begins something like, “We’re terribly sorry to hear about the loss of your husband of 50 years, Mrs. Smith. Now hand over his guns or we’ll take them by force.”
According to WGRZ Channel 2 News:
They [the police] feel that, in some cases, families are holding on to weapons even after the person who bought them originally has died.
So now they’re actually looking for those situations.
Some police agencies give families of the deceased permit holder 15 days to sell or transfer a weapon or weapons held with the permit to another permit holder or a dealer.
The police are purportedly enforcing Chapter 180, Section 1-E of the Buffalo code, which limits how a gun owner may transfer his weapon to another person. It provides:
No person shall dispose of any firearm, rifle, shotgun, air gun or ammunition in the City. This prohibition shall not apply to:
(1) A gunsmith or dealer in firearms duly licensed by the State of New York or the United States.
(2) A person disposing of the same to a gunsmith or dealer in firearms duly licensed by the State of New York or the United States.
(3) A person voluntarily surrendering the same in accordance with the provisions of § 265.20 of the Penal Law.
(4) A person disposing of a licensed firearm in accordance with law.
However, the police ignore two additional methods that individuals may legally transfer guns within the city, and they bear directly on the guns owned by decedents. They are, according to the Buffalo ordinance:
(5) Disposition by intestate or testamentary bequest.
(6) A person disposing of a rifle, shotgun, air gun or ammunition to a family member.
Buffalo police have been accused of acting outside the law in the past in an effort to combat crime. According to Guns.com:
The police department’s zealousness to fight crime has brought the recent attention of federal investigators. which led to the indictment of three current and former officers this May on civil rights violations. These allegations included officers shooting handcuffed teenaged suspects with a BB guns in a case of excessive force.
“There is a culture within the Buffalo Police Department that is not easy to change,” FBI Agent-in-Charge Brian P. Boetig said of the indictment and recent string of high-profile disciplinary actions within the Buffalo Police Department, The Buffalo News reported. ”To fix things, you have to expose a lot of the bad.”