After the Parkland school shooting, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office accepted the surrender of a rifle from at least one local man, whose Facebook post went viral. Responses to the post ranged from appreciation, to declarations that the individual deserved to suffer violence for surrendering his weapon. However, on Saturday, the Broward County Sheriff’s Department weighed in publicly, calling the AR-57 a dangerous weapon and expressing appreciation for having it “off the streets.”
Posting on Friday, Ben Dickmann described the rifle as one he enjoys shooting, but says he doesn’t need.
“I am a responsible, highly trained gun owner. However I do not need this rifle. No one without a law enforcement badge needs this rifle. This rifle is not a ‘tool’ I have use for. A tool, by definition makes a job/work easier. Any ‘job’ I can think of legally needing doing can be done better by a different firearm. I enjoyed shooting this rifle immensely but I don’t need it, I have other types I can shoot for the same enjoyment.”
The post generated hundreds of thousands of shares and likes — and several hundred angry reactions as well. At least one commenter expressed an opinion that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office would simply resell the rifle at auction, taking it from the hands of a self-described responsible gun owner and passing it on to someone of unknown intent.
However, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office expressed appreciation for having the rifle out of circulation, and posted advice for anyone else who might like to surrender a weapon in the wake of the school shooting that took the lives of 17 children. In short, if you were thinking of walking into the sheriff’s office with a rifle in hand, it’s probably not the best way to handle the surrender.
In their post, the department advised contacting law enforcement by phone, and leaving the weapon secured “in a location away from you” in your home or business, rather than meeting a law enforcement officer while holding your firearm. As an alternate option, the office suggested locking the unwanted firearm into the trunk of a vehicle, driving to the sheriff’s office, entering without the gun (leave it locked in the vehicle), and advising desk personnel, after which a deputy will accompany you to retrieve the weapon.
As for those who expressed concern that the surrendered firearm might turn up in a later shooting, the Broward County Sheriff’s Department says that firearms turned in this way will be slated for disposal, rather than resale.
Sheriff Scott Israel has faced criticism for his comments after the shooting, in which he stood near the high school campus and called for stricter laws controlling access to firearms. According to the Washington Post, the Broward Sheriff has called for stronger gun control before, particularly after his sister-in-law was in the vicinity of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shooting in 2017, and now promises to be “very animated” in pushing for legislation to prevent another school from being the victim of such an attack.
In the wake of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office has been very active on social media, connecting with the public and sharing information, including responses to threats that arose after the shooting, and a link to a GoFundMe page to provide support to victims and their families. They’re urging anyone with additional information about the Stoneman Douglas High school shooting to contact the FBI tipline here.