We’ve received a number of questions about one particular item collected at today’s buyback, so we will try and provide some clarification:
A man standing outside the gun buyback event this afternoon was showing his recently purchased launch tube assembly for a Stinger portable surface-to-air missile. Naturally, this created a bit of excitement, and several people at the event informed officers there was a man walking around with a missile launcher. Officers spoke to the man, who was very cooperative, and told officers that he had just purchased it for $100 from another person at today’s event. Officers then asked the man if they could take a closer look at the launcher.
The launch tube assembly for the Stinger is what holds the actual missile and is designed to be disposable after it is fired, as this one clearly was. Officers checked the tube and confirmed that there was no missile inside. However, even an expended launch tube is still a controlled military item. This item is not available to civilians through any surplus or disposal program offered by the government. Items such as this are required to be accounted for until they are ultimately destroyed. Detectives from the Arson/Bomb Squad will notify the Army Criminal Investigation Division on Monday and see if they can determine through the serial number the status of this particular launch tube.
The man was provided with a case number and a short report was written regarding the circumstances surrounding this item. Officers took possession of the launch tube. The man did indicate he would like to keep the launch tube if he is legally able to do so. The man agreed to accept a gift card as compensation if the launch tube is not returned to him. It is most likely, however, that the launch tube was previously obtained unlawfully from the military in which case, SPD will likely return the item to Joint Base Lewis McChord—as we do with other recovered military explosives and ordinance—where it will be properly accounted for and destroyed.