It is a law in Arizona cities and counties that all seized guns will be sold to licensed dealers as opposed to destroying them. This law was mandated in 2010 but it was expanded on in 2013 by Gov. Jan Brewer to include guns that were turned in during gun buybacks. The theory behind this was that destroying perfectly good weapons is a waste of resources that could benefit taxpayers and destroying forfeited weapons does nothing to make a community safer.
Charles Heller, spokesman for The Arizona Citizens Defense League, a Tucson-based nonprofit organization that advocates for gun rights argues that Arizona cities and towns cannot make their own decisions about the disposal of forfeited weapons. But, this year, Gov. Doug Ducey signed strong preemption laws that could see Tucson lose state funds and even see local officials fined for noncompliance.
State Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, filed a complaint with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office to open an investigation to determine if Tucson has violated a 2013 law requiring jurisdictions to sell rather than scrap surplus firearms. The complaint was filed October 12, 2016. Finchem said, “The city of Tucson flagrantly violated state statutes and deprived the taxpayers of the opportunity to obtain fair-market value of a public asset.”
Finchem included with his complaint 231 pages of documents that he received from city officials that detailed some 1,436 guns ordered destroyed by the Tucson Police Department in recent months. The documents prove that many different guns have been destroyed, including inexpensive firearms, collectibles, and high end models. On October 27, the city replied to Brnovich’s complaint with a 16 page letter, stating the city has the authority under its charter to decide how they dispose of public property held by the Tucson Police Department.
Tucson police have collected 6,517 firearms since 2013. 413 have been auctioned to FFL holders, 346 were transferred to the TPD’s inventory, and the 4,820, were destroyed. The city states that cutting off Tucson’s state funds over the gun issue would be improper. Democratic City Councilman Steve Kozachik said, “It is clearly unconstitutional. You can’t strip the city’s funding without due process.”