It has been revealed that the city Tucson’s Police Department has destroyed 4,820 guns turned in by residents or seized from crime investigations since the beginning of 2013. This is flying in the face of a law that was passed in that same year.
This news is brought about by a complaint made by state Representative Mark Finchem, who is arguing that Tucson is violating the 2013 Arizona law that requires the sales of otherwise legal guns obtained by law enforcement agencies.
Finchem filed his complaint using a new law signed by Republican Governor Doug Ducey this year. SB 1487 says local governments that violate state laws lose their state-shared revenue if they don’t stop. Tucson received $172 million from the state last year.
Finchem’s argument is that the city’s policy is destroying valuable public property.
“The city of Tucson flagrantly violated state statutes and deprived the taxpayers of the opportunity to obtain a fair-market value of a public asset,” the Representative said in a news release, adding the guns should have been auctioned off.
City officials said they are acting within their power to make decisions locally without outside interference, as allowed under City Charter rules.
“This is a matter of solely local concern in which the state Legislature may not interfere,” Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin wrote in a letter. He said the laws cited by Finchem in his complaint do not apply to the city in this case.
The city has been destroying guns for more than a decade, Rankin noted.
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said the complaint made by Finchem is a legal one, not a political decision by the city of Tucson.
City policies allow only for rifles that are not semi-automatic and shotguns to be sold at public auction. All handguns and semi-automatic rifles that were taken in by police are destroyed.
Roughly 86 percent of the guns that were disposed of in the last 3½ years were destroyed, according to documents provided by the Tucson Police Department. Of the remaining 14 percent, half were put up for sale at auction and half were kept for law enforcement purposes.
Todd Rathner, a member of the National Rifle Association of America Board of Directors, said the city is picking and choosing which laws it wants to follow.
“They are willfully disobeying state law. They are making determinations based on a politicized description of a firearm,” Rathner said.