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Ariz. group seeks to stop destruction of guns

TUCSON, Ariz. -- An Arizona gun-rights group is seeking to stop municipalities from destroying guns voluntarily turned into police departments.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that the Arizona Citizens Defense League is pressing the Legislature to change a law, adding guns "surrendered" willfully by the owner to the list of firearms police departments must recirculate back into the market.

The move comes after Tucson police recently destroyed more than 200 guns collected during a buyback program.

State law now requires police departments to sell confiscated or found guns to a licensed dealer, once they ensure the firearms weren't stolen or needed for evidence.

But defense league spokesman Charles Heller says the law's wording allows some police departments to go around it.

"It's already in the law. The problem is they're misconstruing the law. So we're changing the words so their (deceitfulness) is made very clear," Heller said.

Heller said if another "buy-up" occurs, the new language would make it clear the weapons must be sold to a licensed dealer.

"What that does is, it takes them out of the hands of a person who doesn't want it, and puts it in the legitimate hands of someone who does," Heller said.

Tucson Councilman Steve Kozachik said the bill underscores an inconsistency among folks who would normally champion property rights.

"This bill clearly illustrates that some people don't view guns like toasters. When it comes to guns, it's as though they hold some magical or sacred designation in their lives," Kozachik said. "They go around proclaiming to be for private property, but civil liberties are out the window when it comes to guns. I guess the message is, we can't do what we want with our property in this state if that property is a firearm."

Even though 17 representatives lined up to sponsor the bill, not everyone is so sure it's a done deal.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild predicted it won't find enough support to pass after a recent visit to the state Capitol.

"I spent the day at the state Legislature with leadership and a number of senators and representatives," discussing a wide range of topics, Rothschild said in an email. "No one, once, all day, mentioned guns, or gun legislation," he said, expressing hope that means the Legislature will "honor their stated belief in local control on issues like gun buybacks."

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