Two hundred turn out for auction of firearms

GREG MERSCHEL takes a bid during Saturday’s sale of Bill Martin’s gun collection at the former Dale Broome’s RV Center building on the Interestate 70 Business Loop. Some sold for as little as $125, and no background checks were required.

It was standing room only Saturday at Bill Martin’s estate auction, where he parted with about 150 guns from his family’s private collection.

The auction was at the old Dale Broome’s RV Center building on the Interstate 70 Business Loop. A line of interested buyers and curious people stretched outside the door from 11 a.m., when the viewing of the guns opened, to 1 p.m., when the auction started. About 200 attended.

Anyone registered with United Auctioneers could walk away with one of Martin’s guns, in some cases for as little as $125, with no background check.

It’s like selling a gun to a neighbor, Sandy Jones, owner of the auction company, said.

“From one estate to a private party,” she said. “We’re representing them.”

Martin’s guns were seized by the Mesa County SWAT team and federal investigators in 2007 on a report that Martin, a convicted felon, owned guns. The case against Martin has since been dropped, and his guns and ammunition were returned to his family.

The incident left Martin and his wife, Shelley, with a bad taste in their mouths. They also feel that the security of the guns had been compromised, which is the reason why they decided to sell some.

“I’ve never been arrested; I’ve never been charged; I’ve only been threatened,” Martin said.

Many people at the auction were overheard grumbling about the ordeal the Martins have been through.

Still, with a majority of Martin’s guns on display, he said he didn’t feel too exposed.

“Oh, this isn’t all my guns,” he said, surveying the scene.

Many do hold sentimental value to him.

“They’ve been part of our family and family members gone,” Martin said. “Part of my life for 40 years.”

Shelley Martin had a front row seat at the auction and watched the steady stream of gun enthusiasts inspect each rifle, pistol and shotgun.

“It’s hard, it’s hard,” she said about parting with some of them.

She said she was hoping five or six of the guns would sell for several thousand dollars.

Proceeds from the sale will be distributed among the family.

William Brown of Grand Junction attended the auction.

“There’s a couple guns here I had when I was a kid,” he said.

He wasn’t interested in buying any, but wanted to see how much money the guns brought.

“To see if the economy has affected everything,” Brown said.

Another man, a self-described history buff who asked not to be named, said most of the guns he inspected were in good shape, but very pricey.

He was interested in an 1860 Navy Colt, a collectible antique. He said Martin claimed it was carried in the Battle of Gettysburg.

The man had cheat sheets with gun descriptions and serial numbers tucked into the inside pocket of his jacket.

“We’re talking about thousands of dollars here, and you don’t want to waste your money,” he

Once the auction started, Martin would read out a description of the gun before bidding ensued.

“Gun number 15,” the auctioneer said at rapid speed. “Take this one like you did your wife, for better or worse.”


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