City of Phoenix reverses plan to send unclaimed guns to Ukraine

The Phoenix City Council voted to walk back a plan that would have sent unclaimed guns to Ukraine.
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 3:54 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The city of Phoenix has reversed course on a plan to send unclaimed guns to Ukraine less than a week after the state attorney general determined the move violated state law. During a Phoenix City Council policy session Tuesday afternoon, council members voted 9-0 to repeal the ordinance. “I am clearly voting to repeal our ordinance to bring the city into compliance with the AG ruling. However, I continue to be extremely, extremely disappointed that current state law prevents us from making our own community safety decisions,” said Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari shortly before the vote was taken. “Reselling guns that have been used in crimes does not keep us safe, nor does it provide the city with any overwhelming stream of revenue.”

After being passed unanimously on June 28, 500-600 guns would have been transferred to a private export company that would then turn them over for distribution to the National Police of Ukraine. The plan involved certain handguns, rifles and shotguns that were declared unclaimed after no owner came forward following a 30-day notice.

Two Republican members of the Arizona House, Reps. Quang Nguyen and Selina Bliss, challenged the legality of the ordinance in early July through a letter sent to the City Council and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. That was followed by a complaint filed against the city in August, calling for the attorney general’s office to find out if the plan violates the state constitution regarding the sale and disposal of unclaimed firearms.

Last week, the attorney general’s office ordered the city to repeal the ordinance after its investigation found the planned transfer violated three state statutes. Among them, the attorney general’s office found that the Phoenix ordinance violates a law that requires agencies to sell unclaimed firearms to authorized businesses, not donate them. The state Legislature had also previously passed a law that limits the ability of “any political subdivision in Arizona,” such as Phoenix, to regulate firearms and ammunition, declaring it a matter of “statewide concern.”

“If the Legislature truly prioritizes public safety, then I implore them to pass meaningful legislation that will help us reduce gun violence in our cities,” Mayor Gallego said during Tuesday’s meeting.

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