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Ariz. bill would require cities to sell turned-in guns

PHOENIX — Arizona cities and counties would have to sell guns turned in at community buyback events instead of destroying them under a law passed by the Legislature.

The bill doesn’t have any effect on guns seized by law enforcement, which already have to be sold to a federally licensed dealer under a law passed last year. But that didn’t stop a lengthy debate that veered into the possibility that the gun used to shoot US Representative Gabrielle Giffords might end up back on the street.

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The bill is designed to eliminate a loophole that requires police agencies to sell seized guns. Cities have continued to hold buyback events and destroy the weapons, arguing that because they were voluntarily surrendered, they aren’t covered by the law.

The Senate passed House Bill 2455 Tuesday on an 18-to-12 party-line vote and it now goes to Republican Governor Jan Brewer for action.

Democrats argued that Republicans complain about the federal government when it requires the state to take action, yet they’re quick to force local governments to do what they want. Republicans countered that allowing cities and counties to destroy guns that could be sold is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

‘‘It’s not about protecting Second Amendment rights, it’s about protecting the taxpayers,’’ said Senator Rick Murphy, Republican of Peoria. He also argued that the state doesn’t require the destruction of cars involved in fatal accidents, so requiring guns to be destroyed is simply a feel-good measure that protects no one.

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