Tuscon Ends Policy Of Destroying Seized Guns

If you’re like me, you’ve wept at footage of firearms being destroyed simply because they ended up in the government’s hands somehow. Oh, I don’t feel back about the Jennings, Cobra, or Bryco guns so much, but you also see some nice firearms being wrecked. Even a cheap 1911 makes my heart ache…and I’m not even a 1911 guy.

At least now there will be one less city destroying innocent firearms as Tuscon, AZ has officially ended the practice.

In the end, only one number really mattered when it came to Tucson stopping its policy of destroying guns in city possession — $57 million.

That is the amount in annual state-shared revenues the city would have have to forgo if it defied a ruling by the Arizona State Supreme Court that the practice conflicted with state law. Specifically, the ruling affirmed that surplus property must be auctioned to the highest bidders.

The Tucson Police Department has destroyed 4,820 guns turned in by residents or seized from crime investigations since 2013, city records show. The firearms are typically seized in criminal cases, although city officials note some guns are surrendered by their owners to be destroyed.

The seven Democrats on the Tucson City Council, after meeting behind closed doors with their attorneys, said their hands were tied by the court’s decision. The city will begin auctioning off guns in the next few months to licensed gun dealers.

The vote on the city council was 4-3, with one of the dissenting voices saying she just couldn’t make herself vote yes.

Luckily, most of the other officials had decent sense.

There are a few things to keep in mind here. These guns aren’t going back into circulation with the criminal underbelly they were typically taken from. They’re being auctioned off to licensed gun dealers. That means it’s illegal to sell them to anyone who can’t pass a background check. It’s not like they handed them to Joe the local black market arms dealer. They’re going to Steve the FFL holder who is required by law to keep meticulous records and get background checks prior to each and every purchase.

Guns are property, much like anything else. The City of Tuscon thinks nothing of auctioning off a car used in drug trafficking. They don’t think anything of auctioning off any other property they end up in possession of, so why should guns be any different?

“But guns kill people,” some might argue.

However, guns kill far fewer people than cars, yet those are routinely auctioned off by police…and without the laws restricting ownership of vehicles in place. Just anyone can purchase a two-ton death-missile (hey, if they get to call them “assault weapons,” I get to call cars “death-missile”) with no background check or anything else.

Putting these weapons back in circulation de-stigmatizes firearms and puts them back in the proper place as mere objects, as they should be. Further, this helps put affordable weapons on the market so poor people can get quality firearms to defend themselves with.

Maybe someday politicians will begin to grasp that guns are nothing more than objects like any other and stop treating them like a cursed item from a Dungeons & Dragons game.

Sep 21, 2021 10:30 AM ET