Richardson: Arizona cities shouldn’t be turned into gun supermarkets - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

Richardson: Arizona cities shouldn’t be turned into gun supermarkets

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Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at bill.richardson@cox.net.

Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013 8:31 am | Updated: 9:41 am, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

How would you like to buy a gun that killed an Arizona police officer?

Would you like to be the owner of the gun that delivered a fatal bullet into a police officer and took away a spouse, a father, mother or a someone’s child?

If a cop killer gun isn’t available how would like to buy the military grade rifles that were taken from the scene of a Gilbert mass murder that was carried out by an avowed white supremacist?

Or what about guns that were used to murder two Arizona State University students in Tempe?

The .22 pistol that was used to execute five women and children at a Mesa beauty school might still be available for purchase?

How about the rifle that was used to murder nine people at the Wat Promkunaram Buddhist Temple in western Maricopa County? The dead included six monks and an elderly nun.

All of the murder weapons I mentioned and thousands more could end up in a gun store for sale if a new Arizona law that went into effect in August is interpreted in a manner that would force police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Arizona Department of Public Safety to sell all seized firearms used in crimes.

The guns that were used to seriously wound a Phoenix police officer on Monday and a Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputy on Tuesday could soon be in a gun store near you.

Should the guns used to murder three police officers from Chandler and Gilbert be sold to the highest bidder?

The law designed to prevent police agencies from destroying seized guns, Arizona Revised Statutes 12-941, was pushed through the legislature last year on the premise that it could raise money for the communities where the weapons were seized following the commission of a crime.

On Jan. 5, the Arizona Republicreported that the Citizens Defense League told the State Senate Judiciary Committee last year that local agencies were “leaving money on the table” by not selling the weapons. The story went on to say the Citizens Defense League “could provide no estimate of how much the bill could save taxpayers, nor could any law-enforcement agency that currently trades weapons or is preparing to do so.”

Maybe a cop killer’s gun might bring high dollar in a less than scrupulous gun store, weirdo memorabilia auction or on eBay, but most of the guns I’ve seized and seen police in police custody aren’t in the best of shape. Some were even potentially dangerous.

I can see it now: police are forced to sell an unsafe weapon to a gun dealer who in turn sells it to a citizen who has the gun blow-up and who then sues the police agency that was forced by the legislature to sell it.

While our legislature is fixated on taking guns seized by officers and forcing police agencies to sell them, I have yet to hear a peep from the law and order crowd at the state capital on the issue of funding a statewide law enforcement effort to target those who sell weapons to the felons and careers criminals who keep committing new crimes, including murdering police officers and innocent citizens.

Police officers I’ve spoken with have told me Arizona is a wide open supermarket when it comes to illegal guns that flow easily into the hands of criminals.

The legislature’s move to turn cities into gun dealers is a misguided role for state government.

What might work in Show Low could be a far cry from what’s needed in the East Valley and metro Phoenix.

Instead of making local governments gun dealers, creating potential liability for mayors, city councils and police chiefs, the legislature needs to make Arizona streets safer by targeting illegal sellers of guns to career criminals.

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