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Arizona law bans destroying guns purchased in buyback programs

May 04, 2013|By Michael Mello | This post has been corrected. See the note below
  • Tucson police officers catalog weapons at a gun buyback program in January. Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer has signed legislation that prohibits cities and counties from destroying any guns that come into their possession -- part of a broader movement to limit gun buybacks.
Tucson police officers catalog weapons at a gun buyback program in January.… (Brian Skoloff / Associated…)

TUCSON — City- or county-sponsored gun buybacks — often used in larger cities to entice people to give up their handguns — have become effectively pointless in Arizona with legislation signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.

The bill prohibits cities and counties from destroying any guns that come into their possession; instead, the firearms must now be sold to federally licensed dealers.

The law started out as a set of guidelines on how government agencies should handle property that was confiscated, used as evidence, or turned in to law enforcement agencies, with an eye toward generating money for strapped programs. Eventually, the provision preventing local government from destroying such weapons was added.

Brewer’s office did not issue a statement about her approval of House of Representatives Bill 2455, which she signed without fanfare Monday.

Firearms groups, however, pushed heavily for the bill. The National Rifle Assn.’s legislative action arm urged members to support the bill, saying, “firearms that are collected would maintain their value and their sale to the public would help recover public funds when budgets are strained.”

Earlier this year, Tucson held a buyback that collected more than 200 weapons. The police department arranged with the Safeway chain of grocery stores to donate $10,000 worth of gift cards for the buyback.

“It was tremendously successful,” Councilwoman Regina Romero said.

Romero told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday that HB 2455 was “ridiculous,” particularly in light of the rash of mass shootings in the United States over the past few years. Arizona has not been immune: In January 2011, Jared Lee Loughner went on a rampage in a Tucson shopping center, shooting to death six people and wounding 13 others, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

“I think it’s tremendously hypocritical of the Republicans in the state Legislature to nag and cry about federal control but turn around and micromanage cities,” Romero said.

Gun buybacks have also been held to the east in Phoenix, and the police department there intends to make the best of the three months it has until the new law takes effect. The city will hold three buybacks this month, offering $100 gift cards for every handgun, shotgun and rifle turned in, and $200 for assault rifles. The collected guns will be destroyed.

Los Angeles routinely holds gun buybacks, with the most recent scheduled for Saturday.

[For the record, May 6, 2013: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in 2001.]

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