It’s a place most in the general public will never get to see.
Hidden inside an unassuming storage facility in East Austin is the Austin Police Department’s confiscated firearms vault. Tucked away inside countless boxes, five decades of firearms collected by the department are individually tagged, cataloged and stored under tight security.
“We have approximately 9,500 guns in the evidence storage right now. They range from handguns to rifles, shotguns, assault weapons. The whole gamut of firearms are stored,” said APD Evidence Manager James Gibbens. The vault is run under the care of APD Field Support Services Chief Ed Harris.
“Every weapon in here, whether it be a handgun or a long gun, was either confiscated during a traffic stop, during the commission of a crime, perhaps doing a search warrant for drugs and narcotics, or in many cases weapons were confiscated during domestic violence situations for safekeeping,” explained Harris. “Every weapon in here was connected to a service call of same type.”
The department seizes about a thousand guns a year, ranging from handguns and high powered .44 magnum revolvers to assault style weapons based on the popular AK-47 and AR-15 designs. Most are semi-automatic rifles that are legal to purchase, but are sometimes illegally modified to be fired fully automatic.
The oldest firearm in the collection is a tiny .22 revolver seized in 1969. Many of the guns that linger on the shelf are connected to unsolved murders or cases that are on appeal. Pulling out a rifle of the AK-47 design with a twelve inch metal bayonet folded into the stock, Gibbens explained many assault style weapons are turning up around criminal activity.