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Thursday, November 22 , 2018, 3:10 am | Fog/Mist 52º


Santa Maria Police Show Off Hundreds of Seized Firearms Targeted for Destruction

Officials say the wide variety of weapons, many of them modified and therefore illegal, were recovered during criminal investigations

Santa Maria police Cmdr. Phil Hansen holds a sawed-off shotgun while standing between Chief Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola, left, and police Chief Ralph Martin on Tuesday to show off the hundreds of firearms seized by Santa Maria police that will be melted.
Santa Maria police Cmdr. Phil Hansen holds a sawed-off shotgun while standing between Chief Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola, left, and police Chief Ralph Martin on Tuesday to show off the hundreds of firearms seized by Santa Maria police that will be melted. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Hundreds of firearms seized by Santa Maria police will be destroyed this week, ensuring they don’t return to criminal use.

The Santa Maria Police Department’s leaders on Tuesday afternoon showed off the assorted weapons targeted for disposal.

“I think it’s nice for people to get a sense of what happens when we take these things off the street,” police Cmdr. Phil Hansen said.

On Wednesday, department personnel will transport the weapons, numbering more than 300, to a Southern California location where they will be melted with the steel to be recycled for a useful purpose, Hansen added.

A company that officials declined to identify has agreed to melt the weapons at no charge.

“I think it’s just important to note they don’t make their way out on the street or that they’re not resold or anything like that,” Hansen said.

The stash includes a wide variety of handguns, shotguns, rifles and assault weapons and represent firearms seized during criminal investigations for at least three years and likely longer.

Many of the the weapons had been modified, making them illegal, Chief Ralph Martin added.

“If they’ve been modified we simply do not want any of these weapons back on the street,” Chief Ralph Martin said. “They serve absolutely no purpose except in a criminal’s hands.”

Santa Maria police will be transporting hundreds of seized weapons, including handguns, shotguns, rifles and assault weapons, to a Southern California location on Wednesday for disposal. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Hansen held up one weapon, with the barrel and butt lopped off, a classic example of a sawed-off shotgun, he said.

“It really has no value as a sporting weapon of any kind,” Hansen said. “It’s really, at this point, designed for one thing and one thing only and that’s to take a human life.”

Hansen noted that some people have focused in recent months on the militarization of police and agencies’ acquisition of armored vehicles.

The stash of fairly sophisticated weapons serves as a prime example of the type of firearms encountered by police on a daily basis and the reason some of the defensive equipment is needed, Hansen added.

Many of the seized weapons are illegal to possess in California. Once seized, they cannot be returned and must be destroyed, officials noted.

While welcoming the added space in the agency’s warehouse with the stash of weapons removed, Hansen said the destruction and photo opportunity held Tuesday actually means much more.

“It’s a visible manifestation of what our people are doing out there on a daily basis,” Hansen said. “They are keeping the community safe by taking these things off the street.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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