The Mesa City Council is expected to approve guidelines today for selling seized firearms, a move paving the way for the weapons to be auctioned to licensed gun dealers.
The council was set to approve the guidelines in September but delayed the vote so city officials could correct errors and make minor changes in the proposed policy.
In April, the council voted 6-1 to reinstate gun auctions. The move reversed a 1998 city policy requiring all firearms confiscated by police to be destroyed unless they could be used for law enforcement, donated to museums, or returned to the owners if the guns were stolen. Before 1998, police auctioned seized firearms to gun dealers.
Mayor Keno Hawker and other council members said the change would stop the destruction of legal weapons and raise money for the city treasury.
But the move has angered gun control advocates who said firearms confiscated by police will end up back on the street. Vice Mayor Dennis Kavanaugh cast the dissenting vote in April, saying the current policy was working, and mirrored how other large U.S. cities deal with seized guns.
On Tuesday, Kavanaugh said he still doesn’t agree with the change, but he will vote to approve the new policy because it minimizes risk and liability to the city.
The new guidelines for gun auctions are loosely based on the policy Mesa had before 1998.
Under the guidelines, eligible firearms include handguns and rifles valued at more than $100. Ineligible firearms include assault-style weapons such as AK-47s and AR15s, guns used in violent crimes or in a suicide, guns without legible serial numbers, and guns that have been illegally altered. Those weapons will continue to be destroyed. Police are required to check serial numbers to make sure a gun was not reported stolen and make efforts to locate the owner if it was.
The Mesa Police Department is holding more than 250 firearms eligible for auction. Mesa last auctioned guns in 1997, selling 346 firearms for a net profit of $32,000, according to city records. Since the policy was changed in 1998 and the end of 2002, the city destroyed 1,892 firearms, records show.