Last month, I bought a 9mm handgun in a Safeway parking lot in Northeast Portland, to show how easy (and legal) it is to get a gun on the street.
When I published my cover story about the gun earlier this month, I'd planned to turn the pistol over to the Portland Police at the next city-sponsored handgun-surrender event in September.
But after the story went to press, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office contacted me to say they were willing to take the gun off my hands sooner. With the story saying the gun was sitting in my closet in inner Southeast, the sheriff's office was worried I'd become the victim of a gun thief—a possibility I frankly find pretty improbable.
But having the gun around always made me a little queasy, so I took the sheriff's office up on their offer. This morning I drove out to the Hansen Building at Northeast Glisan and 122nd to surrender my gun to Sgt. James Eriksen.
Eriksen said that earlier this week, the sheriff's office took about 100 seized guns out to a steel mill in McMinnville to be melted down. That was about a year's worth of seized guns, Eriksen said.
My gun will be placed in the property room in the Hansen Building, Eriksen says. Once the sheriff's office has built up another big load of seized weapons, my gun will be taken along with the others to be melted down in McMinnville.
"The goal is to get them off the street," Eriksen says.
In another follow-up, the Portland Police contacted me after the story went to press to say that my gun had not been reported stolen.
While I was reporting the story, I wanted to learn whether the gun had been reported stolen. But the city cop shop's Tactical Operations Division refused to run the gun's serial number through their computers unless I filed a police report. They told me the state could kick the police bureau off the Law Enforcement Data System if they used it for purposes other than law enforcement (such as journalism).
But on Aug. 8, Officer Peter Helzer of the police Neighborhood Response Team emailed me to say that the gun had not been reported stolen. I asked him what had changed about the police bureau's decision to run the serial number.