Under a new law in Arizona, local officials will be required to put guns that may have been used in crimes back onto the market. On Monday night, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed a bill that makes it illegal for Arizona municipalities to destroy the weapons that they collect at gun buybacks — events where people can turn in their firearms, no questions asked, in exchange for money or gift cards. Instead, government officials must resell those weapons.
The law is a brainchild of the National Rifle Association, which tried to garner support for the measure by asserting that the government has a secret agenda of confiscating and destroying citizens’ weapons:
One of the letters in support was from the National Rifle Association, which argued that selling seized or forfeited guns “would maintain their value, and their sale to the public would help recover public funds.” The NRA letter said the bill doesn’t prevent a private group from holding an event and destroying the weapons.
“However, this measure would ensure that taxpayer resources are not utilized to pursue a political agenda of destroying firearms,” according to the letter, sent April 22 and signed by Brent Gardner with the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.
Under Arizona’s law, municipalities must use their profits from the sale of bought back guns to pay for their budgets. It’s not clear what would happen if an illegal weapon — like the missile launcher found in Seattle — turned up at a buyback.
Guns seized in government buybacks have been later traced back to crimes, including the weapon used by the Pentagon Shooter. In that case, Tennessee officials (that state has a law similar to Arizona’s) sold back a gun in 2005 that was later traded to a gun dealer, then used in a crime. Another crime gun used in a Las Vegas Courthouse shooting followed a similar trajectory from government to criminal hands.