PHOENIX — The Arizona Senate has joined the House in passing a bill that
would require cities and counties to sell guns turned in at community buyback
events instead of destroying them.
The bill doesn’t have any effect on guns seized by law enforcement, which
already have to be sold to a federally licensed dealer under a law passed last
year. But that didn’t stop a lengthy debate that veered into the possibility
that the gun used to shoot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords might end up back on the
The bill is designed to eliminate a loophole in last year’s law that requires
police agencies to sell seized guns. Cities, including Tucson, have continued to
hold buyback events and destroy the weapons, arguing that because they were
voluntarily surrendered, they aren’t covered by the law.
The Senate passed House Bill 2455 Tuesday on an 18-12 party-line vote, and it
now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer for action.
Democrats argued that Republicans complain about the federal government when it
requires the state to take action, yet they’re quick to force local governments
to do what they want.
“We hate it when the federal government mandates it to the state, and we’re
doing the same thing,” said Sen. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma. They also complained
about victims having to deal with the knowledge that a gun that killed a loved
one could end up back on the streets.
Republicans argued that allowing cities and counties to destroy guns that could
be sold is a waste of taxpayer’s money.
“It’s not about protecting Second Amendment rights, it’s about protecting the
taxpayers,” said Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Peoria. He also argued that the state
doesn’t require the destruction of cars involved in fatal accidents, so
requiring guns to be destroyed is simply a feel-good measure that protects no
Murphy and Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, pushed back at the argument
against the state telling cities and counties what to do. Both noted that states
retain rights not given to the federal government through the U.S. Constitution,
while under the state constitution, cities and counties are subdivisions of the
During testimony before a House committee in February, Maricopa County
Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox said buyback programs give people who no longer want
guns in their homes a safe way to dispose of them. She said some are worried the
weapons could be stolen, and others want to prevent a family member from
“There are many, many reasons, but they would never fathom that the guns they
turn in would be recirculated again,” Wilcox said.