Q An inventory of the police evidence locker disclosed approximately 175 firearms with no documentation of ownership. They have all been in the cityís possession for more than one year, and no claim has been made for them. How may the city lawfully dispose of them?

A Because of record keeping requirements, we presume these were not seized under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, and thus will not address those disposal procedures. Firearms seized as a result of a crime are to be disposed of pursuant to Section 97-37-3, which requires return to the accused upon dismissal or acquittal, and disposal as per the courtís order in the event of a conviction. Situations in which the lawful owner is unknown or unable to be located must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and it is suggested that a legal action be filed to declare the property abandoned, in which case the property should be disposed of pursuant to Section 21-39-21. This Section provides notice and sale requirements for disposal of abandoned property. Since the city will likely need a court order to determine ownership of the firearms, it might be beneficial to couple that request with a request as to the appropriate manner of disposal or sale.(Attorney Generalís Opinion to Reynolds, January 18, 2019)