There has been a significant increase in the number of firearms seized by or surrendered to law enforcement agencies. While seizure and recovery numbers are not published, public ATF and FBI data reflects over 373,000 traces of “crime guns”, were conducted in 2015, while in excess of six million firearm serial numbers were checked by agencies. It is estimated over one million guns are recovered annually by law enforcement, not including those obtained through agency buy-back programs.
In some agencies, seized guns are destroyed by sawing in-half or cutting with an acetylene torch, while others are crushed with a sledge hammer, all inherently dangerous methods. A few agencies transport weapons to car shredders or foundries, requiring significant resources, with an increased risk of loss or theft during the process. Monthly, to the chagrin of police administrators, there are reports of supposedly shredded or burned guns reappearing in new crimes. Due to federal air pollution violations, the EPA is closely monitoring such processes.
Agency administrators report their frustration with hidden costs, normally not shown in their budget, for the packaging, storing, record-keeping and eventual destruction of firearms; a number having to increase the size of their storage rooms.