The Mesa City Council on Monday is expected to adopt guidelines for selling seized firearms, allowing licensed gun dealers to buy the weapons at auctions.
The proposed guidelines are loosely based on a policy Mesa had before 1998 when it auctioned seized firearms to gun dealers. In 1998, the City Council changed the policy, enacting a law 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.
In April, the council voted 6-1 to change the law again, reinstating auctions. The move has angered gun control advocates who said firearms confiscated by police will end up back on the street.
The city’s first gun auction could take place by the end year, police said.
Under the guidelines, eligible firearms include handguns and rifles valued at more than $100. The weapons will be auctioned in lots of 50, not 100 as previously reported.
Ineligible firearms include assault-style weapons such as SKS, 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 process to hold an auction becomes effective when police accumulate three lots of 50 firearms.
Mayor Keno Hawker and other council members have defended the new law, saying it is meant to stop the destruction of legal weapons and to raise revenue.
Vice Mayor Dennis Kavanaugh, however, has opposed the move.
"I still think it’s an inappropriate activity for the city to engage in, but the majority of the council voted otherwise," Kavanaugh said Tuesday. He said he believes Police Chief Dennis Donna minimized risk and liability by putting safeguards in the policy.
The police department is holding nearly 250 firearms eligible for auction, officials said. 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.