ETOWAH, TN (WRCB) -- After years of gun roundups, the McMinn County Sheriff's Office is looking give them back to the community. For a price, of course. It's all an effort to raise needed money for the department.

It was a packed house at Bid To Buy in Etowah Saturday as the McMinn County Sheriff and his deputies showed off hundreds of guns they've seized from criminals over the last few decades. Hundreds of gun enthusiasts came with thick wallets.

It's the first time the department has gone this route to get money needed for equipment, and say the idea paid off big time.

Jerry Poe and his wife slept in their car to be first in line after an 80 mile drive from Clinton. "It's a matter of how bad you want it," Jerry Poe said.

It was all to get the biggest bang for his buck. "I've been very pleased with the quality of guns they got," Poe said.

Bid after bid, the avid collector made off with five new guns and the sheriff's office with thousands out of his wallet. "We could do one of two things. We could destroy those or we could turn around and make them available to the public," McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy said.

Sheriff Guy says selling the overflowing evidence locker of guns will put much needed money in the budget. As of now, deputies have to buy some gear from their own pockets.

"We could buy additional body armor. We could buy just about any equipment that they carry with them or they could use in their patrol car for safety," Sheriff Guy said.

"The money will go to a good cause and we'll be able to use the weapons that have been in lock down for almost 30 years," Jenny Demeglio said.

It also gave her a chance at a special find. "I have M.S. and it makes it a little more difficult to take some of the larger caliber weapons so we came down looking for a 20 gage shotgun I could use," she said.

Some went for less than a hundred, while others topped into the thousands. "Just to see how much these guns go for sometimes is amazing," Derrick Ward said.

Each buyer had to pass a background check. "When you have responsible citizenship in your county that possess firearms lawfully, I think it makes a sheriff's job easier," Sheriff Guy said.

It took several hours to get rid of all the 400 plus guns. The sheriff's office doesn't have a final tally of how much they made, but imagine it will be tens of thousands. More than 500 people turned out for the auction traveling from around the state.