Johnson said he didn’t have details as to exactly how many guns but did say it could be thousands and he was told the inventory was worth an estimated $500,000 including collector’s pieces like a Sterling sub machine gun.
“It’s a fully automatic weapon,” Johnson said. “It reminds you of the Bonnie and Clyde days.”
The council voted on April 24, 2017 approving a resolution from Johnson to sell the gun inventory using a Lapeer based online auctioneer.
Johnson said their inventory room is full firearms the police department has acquired by a number of means including confiscation from at least 20 to 30 years.
“The room is filled to capacity,” Johnson said. “Gun cabinets are full to the top, guns are sitting in the floor area and there are guns in roll around garbage cans.”
On April 19, 2017, Johnson’s resolution came before committee where some council members said they were against the move including Eric Mays and Jackie Poplar. Both said during an April 24, 2017 city council meeting that they changed their minds after talking to Johnson about their concerns.
“If we don’t do what is on the table then the guns go to the (Michigan State Police) and they may not be as diligent as we are…this is a one time only,” said Poplar. “We are not getting into selling guns online each week. There’s an inventory. The city needs money. The crooks are always going to have guns. They are selling them illegally everyday. You can basically go to any 12-year-old child in the city of Flint and they can tell you where to buy a gun. That’s another story within itself. I’m doing it for the one time.”
The resolution passed with a 6 to 3 vote.
Council President Kerry Nelson, Vice President Vicki VanBuren and council members Scott Kincaid, Herbert Winfrey, Mays and Popular voted in favor of selling the gun inventory. Council members Wantwaz Davis, Monica Galloway and Kate Fields said no.
“I respect the fact that we could earn $500,000 that would go into the general fund,” said Galloway. “But I have some reservations…If one of these guns that the city places on the internet to be auctioned off ended up in the wrong hands and somebody’s child is taken you can’t put a value on that.”
Under the agreement with Cole Auction House the city would receive 92 percent of the sales of the guns and the auction house would get 8 percent. Johnson asked that the money be put in Flint’s general fund.