Tucson city council to repeal controversial gun ordinance - Tucson News Now


Tucson city council to repeal controversial gun ordinance

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Tucson city council has agree to repeal its controversial gun ordinance as ordered by the Arizona State Supreme Court and the Arizona State Attorney General.

The city passed an ordinance in 2005 which required all guns confiscated or surrendered to the city would be destroyed, unless they could be used for police training purposes.

The state legislature ordered the Attorney General to file suit against Tucson threatening $115 million in state shared revenues if it did not repeal it.

The State Supreme Court sided with the state saying if the city did not comply, it stands the risk of losing the money.

The city reluctantly complied. 

During a study session, the council voted 4-3 to comply with an Arizona Supreme Court ruling and avoid losing millions in funding.

Asked if it was a defiant vote, Ward VI City Council member Steve Kozachik said "it certainly was. It's telling the state legislature to stay out of our stuff."

Kozachik, and other members of the city council feel it has the legal right to make its own laws because of its charter, written in 1929. 

It's called "home rule."

The city has won several victories over the state, most recently over voting issues, when the courts ruled the charter trumps the state. 

The city believes the court decision threatens all home rule decisions and not just on guns, which is a threat to city sovereignty. 

However this ruling went against charter rule prompting the city, with the vote, to keep the issue alive.

"There's no logical basis for somebody in Mesa or Scottsdale to say they know best for the people of Tucson when it comes to the destruction of weapons," said Kozachik.

Tucson's Mayor admits he voted to rescind the ordinance not because he believes in the state's ruling but because it would be irresponsible to threaten such a large amount of money. 

"We absolutely had to protect our state shared revenues," Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said. "One those four votes were in to protect our state shared revenues, the other three voted the way we all feel."

The Mayor does not believe the state ruling is good policy "and we'd all like to make a statement on that."

The City Attorney Mike Rankin will draft a letter to State Attorney General Mark Brnovich notifying him the city has complied.

The city council had already voted in December 2016 to suspend its practice of destroying guns while the state and city battled it out in court over state's rights versus local control.

In September 2017, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state.

The battle was over whether Tucson has the right to destroy guns and whether Arizona lawmakers can withhold state shared revenues if it does, which for Tucson amounts to about $15 million per month. 

State lawmakers passed and Gov. Doug Ducey signed SB 1487 in 2016, which allows the state to withhold revenues from any city which passes an ordinance that violates state law. 

In 2005, Tucson passed an ordinance which allows it to destroy guns most of which are seized by police or turned in by members of the community.

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