Great Second Amendment news out of Tucson, Arizona: The city council there has reversed course on its 10-year run of illegally destroying firearms in the name of "public safety." This is news not only because of the change, but the mechanism by which this was achieved.
Does it matter that the governor forced the city into doing the right thing? Possibly, but positive moves are great to see no matter what their impetus. Democrats run the Tucson City Council. These good people, in all their “progressive” wisdom, have overseen the destruction of 4,820 guns that were either seized by law enforcement during criminal investigations or voluntarily turned in by residents.
So what is the problem? Well, for one thing, the destruction of these guns violated Arizona state law. Moreover, the state legislature had already attempted to stem such blatantly illegal practices in 2014, when it moved to stop local governments from enacting their own patchwork of city specific ordinances and laws in order to skirt laws that they don’t like. For example, cities were passing ordinances banning the use of plastic bags, and enacting employment laws in direct opposition to laws passed at the state level.
Gov. Greg Ducey made a simple request of cities in Arizona: “Put the brakes on ill-advised plans to create a patchwork of different wage and employment laws.” If cities refused to do so, Ducey promised to "use every constitutional power of the executive branch and leverage every legislative relationship to protect small businesses and the working men and women they employ—up to and including changing the distribution of state-shared revenue."
In 2014, when it moved to stop local governments from enacting their own patchwork of city specific ordinances and laws in order to skirt laws that they don’t like.
When cities demonstrated that they would not comply, the state legislature passed Arizona Senate Bill 1487. The bill has the teeth to stop minimum wage hikes in opposition to a state law setting the minimum wage by tying compliance to each city’s share of the 15 percent tax collected on income transportation and sales. The law empowers any lawmaker to initiate an investigation by the state attorney general. If a violation is found and remains after notification, Arizona’s treasurer can withhold the offending city’s share of funds until compliance is achieved. In the case of the ongoing gun destruction, putting $57 million dollars of state shared revenue on the line was enough to get the attention of recalcitrant city council members.
Tucson’s city council is comprised of seven Democrats, and none of them wanted to stop illegally destroying firearms. But the potential loss of revenue proved to be too much of a hit for them to ignore. Their comments truly demonstrate how difficult a decision it was to go against liberal orthodoxy on opposing private gun ownership. Some of their comments are instructive, such as this one by council member Regina Ramero, who voted against changing the policy on gun destruction: “I couldn’t make myself vote ‘yes.’ I think it is wrong in every way, shape and form.”
Really? Following the law as she is mandated to do as an elected official is “wrong in every way”?
How Arizona legislators have succeeded in using their bill to get local anti-gun elected officials to acquiesce is a wonderful example for legislators everywhere, including at the federal level. Utilizing the threat of decreased funding to counter the flouting of unpopular laws is an effective means of getting agreement.
Their comments truly demonstrate how difficult a decision it was to go against liberal orthodoxy on opposing private gun ownership.
There is also the issue of the revenue lost as a result of destroying the firearms. City Attorney Mike Rankin estimated that selling the confiscated guns instead of destroying them would net the city around $100,000 a year in income going forward. Every weapon seized would not make it to sale, as sawed off shotguns and prohibited weapons are always destroyed. But if the 4,820 guns that were destroyed had been sold instead, the city could have realized their sale value of $600,000.
In addition to complying with the state law, selling the firearms through federal firearms license dealers makes far more sense financially, too, doesn’t it?