Republican lawmakers aim to shoot down Phoenix-to-Ukraine gun transfer

Aug 23, 2023, 4:05 AM

Headshots of Arizona Reps. Quang Nguyen and Selina Bliss. The GOP lawmakers filed an SB1487 complai...

Reps. Quang Nguyen, left, and Selina Bliss filed an SB1487 complaint Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, over Phoenix's plan to give unclaimed guns to the National Police of Ukraine. (X Photos/@AZHouseGOP)

(X Photos/@AZHouseGOP)

PHOENIX — Two Republican state lawmakers are asking Arizona’s attorney general to determine if the city of Phoenix is breaking the law by giving unclaimed guns to Ukraine.

Reps. Quang Nguyen and Selina Bliss, chair and vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, filed an SB1487 complaint Monday requesting that Attorney General Kris Mayes investigate the legality of the weapons transfer.

The Phoenix City Council passed the ordinance in question on June 28, agreeing to send 500-600 firearms to the National Police of Ukraine.

According to the council meeting agenda, the city is disposing of the 9mm, 45mm, 39mm and 12-gauge weapons because they went unclaimed after a 30-day notice.

The transfer is to be handled by Gruelle, a private import/export company, under a two-year contract, at no cost to the city.

Why are GOP lawmakers challenging Phoenix gun transfer?

On July 3, Nguyen and Bliss sent a letter urging the city to repeal the ordinance, alleging that it “is plainly unlawful” under state laws about gun disposal.

“Unclaimed firearms may only be sold — not donated — and the buyer must be a ‘business that is authorized to receive and dispose of the firearm under federal and state law and that shall sell the firearm to the public according to federal and state law,'” the letter says.

In their SB1487 complaint, Nguyen and Bliss said the city executed the contract with Gruelle on Aug. 4 and didn’t respond to their initial letter until Aug. 16.

Phoenix’s response letter indicated the city planned to move ahead with its plan.

“The city views this transfer as similar to previous transfers of firearms made to local law enforcement agencies and with similar intent as donations ‘of surplus bulletproof vests and armor’ to Ukraine by various Arizona law enforcement agencies announced by former Gov. Doug Ducey in 2022,” Phoenix’s letter says.

What is an SB1487 complaint?

SB1487 is a state law passed in 2016 authorizing any member of the Legislature to request an Attorney General’s Office investigation into the legality of local government actions.

It’s a powerful tool, because violations can lead to a loss of shared state revenues.

The AGO gets 30 days to investigate the complaint and determine if the action violated the Arizona Constitution.

If a municipality fails to resolve a violation within 30 days, the state will withhold and redistribute shared monies.

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Republican lawmakers aim to shoot down Phoenix-to-Ukraine gun transfer