The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Tuscon can no longer destroy confiscated guns, as that practice directly contradicts state law.
The ruling upholds provisions included in a 2016 law, Senate Bill 1487, which says cities cannot pass ordinances that conflict with state law, including the Tuscon ordinance that led to the destruction of around 4,800 firearms over the past five years, The Republic reported. While Tuscon’s ordinance allowed for the destruction of confiscated firearms, Arizona state law mandates that they be sold.
The court ruled that Tuscon could not circumvent state law and thus should end the destruction of confiscated firearms or face financial penalties. The court said certain aspects of SB 1487 were constitutional but did not rule on the law as a whole.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich celebrated the ruling, calling it “monumental.”
“The Supreme Court did a great job of clarifying the parameters of when state law can trump local ordinances,” he said.
Under the new law, the Attorney General’s Office can investigate city ordinances local lawmakers think conflict with state law. If those ordinances are ruled to conflict with state law, then the state can withhold funds from the city in question.
“This office has the authority to go after cities when ordinance are in conflict with state law,” Brnovich said. “I have to enforce the law.”
According to Thursday’s ruling, the court said, “Firearms-related statutes implicate several matters of statewide, not merely local, concern and therefore govern over the conflicting municipal ordinance.”
The court clarified that state law trumps city ordinances when the issues at hand concern the state as a whole, such as the power of police to destroy firearms.
“Matters involving the police power generally are of statewide concern,” the ruling said. “The laws at issue here implicate the state’s police power in several respects, the disposition of forfeited or unclaimed property, the conduct of law enforcement officers, including their handling of unclaimed property, and the regulation of firearms.”
All seven judges agreed with the ruling, though some offered differing opinions on some of the legal matters involved.