Arizona AG’s Office says Phoenix’s ordinance allowing gun transfers to Ukraine unlawful

Sep 20, 2023, 12:45 PM

(Pexels Photo)...

(Pexels Photo)

(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Attorney General’s Office found Wednesday that a city of Phoenix plan to transfer unclaimed guns to Ukraine was unlawful.

Phoenix’s ordinance, approved at its City Council meeting on June 28, called for 500-600 handguns and shotguns unclaimed after 30 days to be sent to the Ukraine Police Force.

The AG’s Office said the ordinance violates a statute that requires agencies in possession of unclaimed firearms to sell them to an authorized business instead of donate them.

“While my office has determined that Phoenix’s ordinance conflicts with state laws concerning firearm disposal, I am deeply troubled by these statutes,” AG Kris Mayes, a Democrat, said in a press release.

“These laws are inflexible and frankly offensive to the victims of crime and communities affected by gun violence.”

Why did lawmakers challenge the Phoenix gun transfer?

Republican Arizona Reps. Quang Nguyen and Selena Bliss, chair and vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, filed a SB 1487 complaint last month over the ordinance, calling it unlawful.

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.

Nguyen and Bliss said the city executed the contract with private import/export company 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’s next for Phoenix?

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

Mayes called for stricter gun legislation in wake of her office’s decision.

“While the city’s intent here is commendable, the Legislature has chosen to prohibit this type of creative solution,” Mayes said. “Instead of filing complaints against cities like Phoenix, members of the legislature should focus on passing sensible gun legislation.”

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Arizona AG’s Office says Phoenix’s ordinance allowing gun transfers to Ukraine unlawful