What happens to all those guns police take off the streets?

Minneapolis police have seized 40 guns this month alone.
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The Minneapolis Police Department has recovered a lot of guns this month. 

In a Facebook post Monday, the agency said it has taken 40 guns off the streets since Oct. 1. 

Most of these guns were stolen, used in a crime, or were in the possession of someone who is prohibited from having a gun. And many were found during traffic stops or suspicious vehicle stops, the post said. 

The 40 guns recovered so far this month brings the total number of firearms seized this year to 773 – that's more than a 50 percent increase on the number recovered last year at this time. 

So what happens to all these guns? 

If they were stolen, they're returned to the rightful owner. Otherwise they're destroyed, per city code, the police department said in a comment on Facebook.

According to a 2015 story by the Star Tribune, the St. Paul, Bemidji and Kenyon police departments, as well as the sheriff's offices in Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota counties, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, all either destroy confiscated guns or keep them for department use (such as training and forensics – not as a service weapon). 

Other agencies, though, sell the guns to federally licensed gun dealers to make some extra cash, which is allowed under Minnesota law.

Of all the property used during a crime that was seized by Minnesota law enforcement agencies in 2016, 11 percent were firearms, the most recent Criminal Forfeitures in Minnesota report said.

The firearms that were confiscated and sold that year by Minnesota agencies amounted to $55,566 in gross sales. (So that doesn't count anything seized and then sold by the federal government in Minnesota.)

In 2015, the gross sales totaled $59,415, the report shows. 

That's quite a bit of money, but there's been a lot of debate in recent years over whether law enforcement agencies should sell these guns. Especially in the wake of the 2015 shooting at a New Hope City Council meeting. 

The shooter had illegally acquired guns that had been confiscated and then sold by the Duluth Police Department

After that incident, the police department said it had suspended selling guns "until our department develops sound strategies in keeping firearms from individuals who are ineligible to lawfully possess them," CNN Money reported

The Duluth Police Department told GoMN it no longer auctions off seized firearms. They're now sent to a contractor and destroyed.

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