Attorney General Mark Brnvoch

Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX — Claiming Tucson is violating Arizona law, Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked today that the Arizona Supreme Court cut off the city's state aid.

Tucson received $172 million in state aid last year. 

The lawsuit follows by just hours the unanimous decision by the Tucson City Council to reject Brnovich's demand that it repeal the city's ordinance requiring the destruction of seized firearms.

Today's action is the first test of a controversial new law, signed earlier this year by the governor, giving Brnovich the power to pressure cities to change policies he believes contradict the wishes of Arizona lawmakers.

The fight is over a 2005 ordinance which says that the police department, after it seizes a handgun or a semi-automatic weapon, "shall dispose of such firearm by destroying the firearm.''

The key exception is when the weapon is needed as evidence. There also are exceptions when the police department wants to keep a gun for its own purposes, to transfer it to another law enforcement agency, or lend or transfer it to a museum.

Brnovich, however, said that runs afoul of several state laws.

The first, enacted in 2000, explicitly prohibits local governments from enacting any ordinances dealing with the acquisition, licensing, registration or use of firearms.

More specific is a 2013 law which bars law enforcement agencies from destroying firearms. And a companion measure says the only proper way to dispose of a seized weapon is to sell it.

And Brnovich rejected arguments by Tucson city council members and other local officials that cities have a right to make their own decisions.

"Firearms regulation is a matter of statewide concern because it involves the constitutional right to bear arms, police conduct, and public safety,'' he wrote in the lawsuit.