An anonymous donor has pledged $100,000 to Arizonans for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization, to host in May a gun buyback in Phoenix and destroy the firearms.
The Mayor's Office and the Phoenix Police Department are working with a nonprofit agency to take guns out of circulation.
"I think this is a great program to save people's lives," Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia said during press conference on Thursday after Mayor Greg Stanton announced the program in his State of the City address. "We'll never be able to measure that. But I can attest to the fact that . . . one weapon can change a person's life, or end a life, immediately."
State lawmakers aren't keen on the idea of firearms being destroyed, and instead passed a law in 2012 that mandates courts to order law enforcement agencies sell forfeited and seized weapons to authorized gun dealers.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Other bills now floating in the Legislature aim to expand on that by including, not just forfeited or seized firearms, but also those that are surrendered -- as part of gun buybacks, for example.
While the May program shouldn't be affected by the current laws, Phoenix officials are sidestepping potential legal roadblocks by working with a nonprofit group and using private dollars. Police officials will check guns after they are turned in to determine whether they are stolen or have been used in a crime.
Garcia said the last gun buyback yielded 122 firearms, and individuals were compensated an average of $100.
According to the Mayor's Office, the buyback will take place each Saturday in May, except on Memorial Day weekend, in church parking lots or other trusted community sites across the city. Cops will check each weapon. If it was stolen, it will be returned to its owner. If it was used in a crime, it will be retained by cops and used in investigations.