Town Could Be Out $10K for Unauthorized Gun Sale

December 6, 2013
by S. Aaron Shamshoyan

The town could be on the hook to replace rifles accidently sold by the police department when they cleaned out their armory years ago.  Ten M1 Garand rifles, property of the American Legion Post 63, were being stored at the department since the 1970s, but were accidently sold recently along with other weapons to pay for new guns.

Legion Commander Douglas Micklon appeared before selectmen Monday, November 15 to notify the board a federal investigation was underway and that the town could be accountable to replace the rifles.  The combined value is close to $10,000.

An agreement was made with the police department to store the weapons after the Legion was broken into in the 1970s and other weapons stolen.  “The door was broken down and they were stolen,” Micklon said, adding, “I figured the police department would be the safest place to store them.”  The agreement allowed the police department to use the rifles at any time for ceremonies in exchange for their storage.

Micklon said recently members of the American Legion have expressed interest in starting an honor guard.  The group purchased a 1,000 pound gun safe to protect the weapons.  “We don’t have to worry about, you know, the weapons being stolen again,” he said.

But the group was notified in 2011 by Police Chief Paul Donovan they had been traded by the department.  “The police department actually sold them,” Micklon said.

The Legion has since requested new weapons from the United States government, but an investigation has been launched because of the sale.  “They’ve never had a police department sell weapons before,” he said.

Town manager Keith Hickey said it was unknown to the department the rifles were not theirs.  “The guns were in that weapons room in the police department over 20 years,” he said, adding, “They were not marked property of the American Legion.”  Hickey said storage of the weapons might have been for different reasons than Micklon described.  He suggested working with Donovan to resolve the problem.

Micklon said there was nothing to discuss.  “I’m just making you aware since it’s the budget season,” he said.

The Legion is waiting to hear back from the government whether or not they will receive replacement weapons.  Micklon said the investigation has been pending for three months.

Chairman Everett McBride directed Micklon to see if new weapons will be granted and that discussions would be continued, if they were denied.