One Man's Trash...


Do people actually throw guns away? If so … then what?

Go ahead, finish it. You know the rest of the line: “… is another man’s treasure.” A friend at work asked me to look at a couple of guns he had in his truck. As we walked out to look at them he explained a neighbor, an elderly widow, had piled a bunch of garbage out by the street for trash pickup. She happened to see Jim in his driveway and told him she was cleaning out some of her husband’s old stuff and thought there might be some golf clubs in the trash he could have if he wanted them.

What he thought might have been golf clubs wrapped up in an old rug turned out to be a couple of firearms. He pulled them out and showed them to his neighbor. “Oh, they’re probably no good,” she said. “My husband wasn’t much of a gun guy.” Then she said, “You can have them.” Some people have all the luck.

It turns out Jim wasn’t much of a gun guy either. He had no idea what they were. When we unwrapped them at his truck, we were looking at a Marlin 39A .22 rifle and a Remington 870 12-gauge, both covered in rust. At this point, I made a tactical mistake. I should have offered $200 for them right there, but to be truthful, I didn’t know then how well they would clean up. I did offer to clean them to see how much of the rust I could remove and let him know what he had.

Back at my shop that evening, they cleaned up beyond my expectations. The stocks on both guns were in good shape too, and I found no rust on the interior parts. In the end, both guns cleaned up nicely and showed almost no wear.


When I brought the now-clean guns back to my friend I offered him $100 for the rifle and passed on the shotgun. My dad used to tell me, “Son, you’ve got it backwards. The idea is to buy low and sell high, but you always seem to go the other direction.” That’s because whenever I try to buy low, it always happens like it did this time. Jim turned down my offer. I wasn’t particularly flush with cash then so didn’t up the ante.

When I started to write this about the guns, I figured pictures of the actual guns would be nice. But, my friend told me he no longer had the guns — his wife had sold them. Jim’s wife managed to sell the two guns at a fair price to her brother and father, and she gave the proceeds to their neighbor, the original owner. So, there’s a nice ending to the guns-in-the-trash story.

But there’s more to consider here. Is it legal being the “acquiring” party of something that normally would require a government form for transfer? In many states, individuals can transfer ownership of firearms without Federal paperwork. I know some of the “socialist” states — you know the ones I’m talking about — have laws against it, but this happened in Texas. Putting guns in the trash is certainly not making sure a criminal doesn’t get his hands on them, but this lady apparently didn’t know there were guns in what she was throwing away.

I’ve lost two firearms in my life. One was stolen — shoplifted actually — during a busy time in the store and a momentary distraction by our store personnel. It was recovered by police later. The other gun was one of my favorite little revolvers that unknowingly was knocked off the magnet under my desk where it normally hung, into the trash can. The can was emptied into a larger trash can and deposited on the curb on trash pickup day. The revolver’s absence was not discovered until the trash had been picked up. The little gem was buried deep in the landfill by the end of the day, never to see the light of day again. Ouch.

What About You?

What if you just lose a firearm, like what happened with my little Taurus .327 revolver? Federal Firearms dealers are required to report the loss or theft of a firearm, but unless you live in those “socialist” states, there’s no legal requirement for individuals to report loss or theft of a firearm. You should check your state’s laws. If there’s a chance the firearm will fall into someone else’s hands, it’s to your advantage to report the loss to your local police department for two reasons. If the gun is ever used in a crime and recovered, it won’t come back to you, and if you didn’t mean to lose it, you might someday get it back.

Make your collection’s presence and their value known to your relatives so they can be passed down, or at least sold at a decent price when you’re gone. Oh, and maybe record a true value for them somewhere so your wife won’t sell them for what you told her you paid for them!

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