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NRA Vows To Stop Tucson From Destroying Guns

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
January 9, 2013

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband Mark Kelly have formed a political action committee to support prevention of gun violence. The announcement came Tuesday, the second anniversary of the mass shooting in Tucson which left six dead and wounded 13, including Giffords.

Churches and fire stations around the city rang bells in memory of the victims, and in commemoration of other mass shootings since Tucson.

The Tucson Police Department also held a gun buyback Tuesday. Police want to destroy the 206 firearms turned in to them. But the National Rifle Association says that would violate Arizona law.

A line of people with guns formed in front of the mid-town Tucson police station well before the 9 a.m. starting time for the buyback.

At a command post in the parking lot, officers checked weapons to make sure they hadn’t been stolen or used in a crime, and took the guns. The people who turned them in got a $50 Safeway gift card for every gun — money donated by the grocery chain and by private contributors.

Anna Jolivet had four old rifles she didn’t want: “They belonged to my husband and he passed away four years ago. I haven’t had any success in having someone take ‘em off of me since then, so I thought this a good time to turn them in.”

That was exactly what Republican Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik expected when he asked the police to do the buyback. What he didn’t expect was the response after he announced the event.

“I’ve been getting threats,” Kozachik says. “I’ve been getting emails. I’ve been getting phone calls in the office trying to shut this thing down or we’re gonna sue you or who do you think you are?”

Todd Rathner may sue. Rathner is an Arizona lobbyist and a national board member of the NRA. He has no problem with the gun buyback, but he does have a problem with the fate of the guns once police take possession of them.

“We do believe that it is illegal for them to destroy those guns,” he says.

Rathner says Arizona state law forces local governments to sell seized or abandoned property to the highest bidder.

“If property has been abandoned to the police, then they are required by ARS 12-945 to sell it to a federally licensed firearms dealer, and that’s exactly what they should do,” he says.

That way, Rathner says, the guns can be put back in circulation or given away.

The Tucson city attorney calls that a misreading of the law.

Councilman Kozachik says the guns aren’t being abandoned; they’re being turned in voluntarily.

“This is about giving somebody the chance to say ‘look I’m not comfortable having this weapon, here’s an opportunity for me to just get rid of it in a proper manner’,” Kozachik says.

Todd Rathner says the NRA will ask for an accounting of every weapon turned in, and then go to court to stop the firearms from being destroyed. If that doesn’t work, Rathner says they’ll change the law.

“We just go back and we tweak it and tune it up and we work with our friends in the legislature and fix it so they can’t do it,” Rathner adds.

At the gun buyback, gun-rights advocates held signs reading “Cash For Guns” and “Pay Double For Your Guns.” As cars pulled into the parking lot, they asked drivers if they wanted to sell their guns privately rather than turn them in. There were few takers.

Doug Deahn couldn’t understand it: “Can’t figure they’d rather line up and give ‘em away. Can’t figure that out.”

What’s to become of the weapons may still be unclear. But in the current political climate, this controversy seems to show in Arizona, at least, it’s tough for an owner to get rid of an unwanted gun. [Copyright 2013 National Public Radio]

One Response to “NRA Vows To Stop Tucson From Destroying Guns”

  1. AmericanIcon says:

    Unfortunately, the law mandating these firearms not be destroyed is an example of spinelessness on the part of those who enacted it: There is no penalty attached for violating it, mandating any enforcement be through lawsuit – a suit the city would gladly fight until OUR money ran out.

    That said, while Kozachik may be a liar, there's no call to 'threaten' him personally (if such threats have, indeed, been made), but as there would be a violation of state law, informing him and the rest of the council that they will be sued is not a 'threat', it is a statement of fact.

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