Don’t Expect To Find Many ‘Zombie’ Firearms Parts In Gun-Savvy Wyoming

Firearms slated for destruction after seizures or buybacks are reborn as “zombie” gun components for sale on the open market. Wyoming gun enthusiasts say you can’t trust these parts, and firearms owners here are too savvy to use them.

MH
Mark Heinz

December 25, 20235 min read

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In some metropolitan areas, some are crying foul over firearms that were supposed to be destroyed through buyback programs or police seizures are being resurrected in the form of components for sale on the open market.

There’s a term for these parts and weapons that contain them: “zombie guns.”

While legal, firearms-savvy Wyomingites in the market for gun components would be wise to avoid these supposed bargains, local gun experts told Cowboy State Daily. To put it bluntly, those post-destruction gun parts are likely to be crap, so it’s better to buy new or from a reputable firearms parts dealers.

“At those gun buybacks, it’s not likely that it’s high-quality parts they’re going to be getting,” said firearms enthusiast Nic George of Sheridan.

And there’s probably no quality control involved in gathering those gun parts, added Scott Weber, owner of Gunrunner Firearms & Auctions in Cody. Buyers have no guarantee that the components they’ve snagged from post-destruction sales aren’t damaged, and therefore might not even fit or function properly.

Companies Destroy Guns, Sort Of

Recent national news reports say companies such as a Missouri-based business called Gunbusters will contract with law enforcement agencies or municipal governments to destroy firearms that have been seized or collected through public gun buyback programs.

However, the companies might opt to destroy only the parts of the weapons stamped with serial numbers, and then turn around and sell the rest of the components.

The practice is technically legal, but gun control advocates are crying foul, saying that’s just a roundabout way of putting weapons back on the streets.

Too Sketchy For Wyoming

Even so, don’t expect many of those gun parts to end up back on the streets, or county roads, of Wyoming, George said.

He likes to build or customize firearms with components he buys himself, but said he’s far too discriminating to get anything that originated from sources like Gunbusters.

And he surmises that most Wyoming firearms enthusiasts are similarly picky.

“There are good sources to buy quality gun parts from. Nationwide, there’s companies like MidwayUSA and Brownells, and more locally, there’s Mac’s Gunworks in Gillette,” he said.

Weber agreed.

Destroying the parts of a firearm bearing the serial number most likely means destroying the receiver, or the working heart of the gun, he said.

“After that, you would essentially be left with the barrel, the sights, maybe the maginze and the stock,” he said.

And unless a gun is methodically disassembled by a qualified gunsmith using the proper tools, there’s a good chance that those remaining parts could be damaged, Weber said.

What’s more, the guns from which those spare parts came might not have been treated well to being with.

“Those guns are often handled by the cops very, very poorly,” he said.

They might have been tossed haphazardly into a squad car’s trunk, or “sometimes they’ve been stored for years down in a jail cell or an armory, and they can be all rusty,” Weber said.

A Gold Mine For Police

The police departments and municipalities that contract with outfitters such as Gunbusters have “no re-sale” policies for the guns they get through seizures or buybacks.

However, wiser police departments recognize that seized or bought-back firearms can be a gold mine, Weber said. He said he’s conducted numerous auctions for police departments that wanted to clear out their inventory.

He recalled a department that busted a drug lord and seized his armory, and agreed to have Weber auction off the weaponry, which amounted to hundreds of “high-end firearms.”

Police departments can then turn around and use the proceeds from auctions to upgrade their own equipment.

“They can use that money to buy body armor, boots, expensive holsters or other SWAT gear,” he said.

Buybacks Are A ‘Big Joke’

In addition to the parts from destroyed — but not-really destroyed — firearms probably being essentially junk, gun buybacks aren’t going to catch on in Wyoming, George and Weber said.

“I don’t think it really matters here in Wyoming,” George said. “We’ve gone seven sessions in a row where either the (Wyoming Legislature) House or the Senate introduces a Second Amendment preservation act, and one just builds off the other.”

Weber concurred that there’s little to no chance of Wyoming residents stepping up to hand over their guns for gift certificates, football game tickets or other such incentives offered in large cities.

“Those gun buyback programs are a big joke,” he said. “They never snare a firearm from somebody who shouldn’t have had one.”

He expects Cowboy State residents to keep their guns, and to keep buying firearm components from trustworthy sources.

“Here in Wyoming, guns are passed down from generation to generation,” Weber said. “We don’t get rid of our guns in Wyoming, we just get more and more.”

Mark Heinz can be reached at mark@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter