TUCSON, Arizona — Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a Petition for Special Action alleging the City of Tucson’s gun destruction ordinance violates Arizona law on Tuesday. State law prohibits local governments from destroying firearms. However, the City of Tucson enacted an ordinance that requires police to destroy seized firearms. The Petition for Special Action asks the Arizona Supreme Court to determine if Tucson’s ordinance is a violation of state law. If so, the court shall set a timeframe for Tucson to repeal the ordinance or direct State Treasurer Jeff DeWit to withhold Tucson state funding.
SB 1487 recently passed by the state legislature requires the Attorney General to file a Petition for Special Action if an investigation finds a local government has enacted an ordinance that violates state law or the constitution.
“While I respect the autonomy of local governments, the City of Tucson’s mandatory gun destruction policy is at direct odds with state statute. Arizonans depend on the Attorney General to uphold and enforce the law,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Our Supreme Court filing isn’t just about the Second Amendment, it’s about the rule of law.”
City records show that the Tucson Police Department has destroyed 4,820 guns since the beginning of 2013.
The Tucson City Council voted to temporarily stop destroying guns seized by police while it challenges SB-1487. If found in violation of the law, it could cost the City millions in state revenue.
Tuesday’s 7-0 council vote came after the Arizona Attorney General’s Office said the city was violating a 2013 law requiring the guns be sold. The city has continued the practice, saying its charter city status means the law doesn’t apply.
Steve Kozachik, the city council member who helped craft Tucson’s gun destruction ordinance, expects a court battle. “Let them bring it on,” he says. “I’m not simply going to cave because this state legislature has told us to.”
A 2016 law allows an individual lawmaker to ask the attorney general to determine if municipalities aren’t following state law.
On October 12, 2016, Representative Mark Finchem submitted a formal SB 1487 request for an investigation into the City of Tucson’s gun ordinance. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation and found that firearm regulation, including the regulation of the destruction of firearms, is a matter of statewide concern that involves the right to bear arms which is protected under State and Federal Constitutions. Additionally, the state has an interest in regulating firearms as a way to preserve public safety as well as an interest in regulating police departments conduct, including firearms disposal. The preservation of order, the protection of life and property, and the suppression of crime are primary functions of the state.
It forces cities to forfeit state shared revenue if they fail to stop violating the law. Tucson could lose more than $170 million in revenue if the Supreme Court rules against it and it keeps destroying guns.
View a copy of the Petition here: Tucson_Petition_for_Special_Action_FINAL