Sunday, August 20, 2017

Arizona Supreme Court Upholds Statute Forbidding Destruction of Valuable Guns

Colt Python Turned in to be Destroyed by the City of Tucson, valued at about $3,000

On August 17, 2017, the Arizona Supreme Court decided that the City of Tucson violated State law regarding the disposal of firearms.

In 2005, the Tucson City Council had passed an ordinance requiring that unclaimed or forfeited firearms, that were not used by the Tucson Police Department, or transferred to other police agencies, be destroyed.  Such firearms are routinely sold by other police agencies throughout the United States, bringing valuable assets to government coffers.

Destruction of firearms is an act of political theater designed to delegitimize firearms and treat them as contraband. This political propaganda strikes at the heart of the Second Amendment.

In 2013, the State of Arizona passed banned the practice of destroying valuable property, particularly firearms. The firearms were to be returned to ordinary channels of legal commerce. The proceeds from the sale benefits the political entity selling the firearms. Academics have routinely found that the "buy   back" events do not produce useful results, and are a waste of police resources.  From the "Freakonomics" web site:

When it comes to gun buybacks, both the theory and the data could not be clearer in showing that they don’t work. The only guns that get turned in are ones that people put little value on anyway. There is no impact on crime. On the positive side, the “cash for clunkers” program is more attractive than the gun buyback program because, as long as they are being driven, old cars pollute, whereas old guns just sit there.

The Tucson City Council ignored the State of Arizona statute and destroyed about 4,800 legal firearms between 2013 and October, 2016.  Firearms sold at auction by police routinely bring between $100 and $200. The value of the firearms destroyed was likely between $500,000 and $1,000,000.  The process cost of destruction is approximately the same as the cost of legal sale.

The State of Arizona Legislature was not pleased with the scofflaw actions of the Tucson City Council. In 2016, the legislature passed amendments to put teeth into the 2013 statute. It provided a procedure to gain compliance. Penalties are available if a political subunit of the State continued to defy the legislature by destroying valuable property.

The Tucson City Council continued to defy the law. The procedure for compliance was initiated.  The City of Tucson agreed to stop destroying firearms until the City's claims of being exempt from State law were settled by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court unanimously demolished the City of Tucson's claims. Ironically, the City had argued that there was no evidence that the destruction of firearms created a gun shortage in Tucson.  This illustrated the destruction of firearms was for symbolic purpose, not as a way to reduce crime. From
The primary issue we address here is whether the state may constitutionally prohibit a city’s practice, prescribed by local ordinance, of destroying firearms that the city obtains through forfeiture or as unclaimed property. We conclude that a generally applicable state statute on this subject controls over a conflicting municipal ordinance, that the legislature may require the Attorney General to investigate and file a special action in this Court regarding alleged violations of the state law, and that this Court has mandatory jurisdiction to resolve whether the allegedly conflicting ordinance violates state law. Applying those principles here, we accept jurisdiction of the State’s special action and hold, in accordance with article 13, section 2 of the Arizona Constitution, that A.R.S. §§ 12-945(B) and 13-3108(F) supersede Tucson Code §2142

The Arizona State Supreme Court required the City of Tucson to pay the reasonable legal fees of the State of Arizona in this case.

Several states have enacted similar statutes to prevent the wastage of valuable assets by political entities. Cities are allowed to hold or fund gun turn-in events if they wish; but the guns collected are required to be returned to legal channels of commerce for the benefit of the public.

When the Arizona statute was passed in 2013, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was committed to destroying nearly 2,000 firearms that had been turned in to police. The program had been deceptively labeled a "buy back". Governments cannot "buy back" items that they never owned. Mayor Stanton committed 10 thousand dollars of police overtime money to insure the firearms were destroyed.

It is unclear how the destruction of guns turned in to police benefits anyone other than gun manufacturers. Except for sentimental value, historical and collectible appeal, the guns are easily replaced by newly manufactured guns. The demand for guns is not lowered by destroying turned in guns. They are merely replaced by newly guns, with the profits benefiting gun manufacturers.

The Arizona Supreme Court decision was as expected. Cities may not set themselves up as independent city-states, able and willing to defy state law.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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Anonymous said...

Had a Glock 17 stolen inn a burglary 15 or so years ago. Do they check for rightful owner before destruction? I'd sure like to have it back...........

Anonymous said...

ass hole cops make no effort to get the weapon back to the owner. where do you think they get their throw aways. Years ago a cop shoots a guy in a dark alley calls in to request a shooting investigation team. before the team shows up eleven detectives show up and check to see of they know the dead guy? shooting team investigators show up with a coroner, coroner turns the body over and sure enough the dead guy was armed in fact the coroner found eleven pistols under the body.

woofat said...

I am looking for private gun sale
Clean record.Any need to sell california hete.
Thanks in advance

Anonymous said...

A .45 acp is one of the only guns I don't have I'm looking for a 1911 colt.