Former Republican state Sen. Frank Antenori plans to attend Tuesday's gun buyback. But he's not aiming to take home a $50 Safeway gift card.
Instead, he's seeking some good deals to potentially add to his gun collection.
Antenori and a few others will be taking advantage of City Councilman Steve Kozachik's event by setting up shop outside the Tucson Police Department's midtown substation to offer residents "cold, hard cash" for desirable guns.
"We're going down there and saying we'll give you a hundred bucks for that gun right now. Why get a crummy $50 gift card for a gun that's worth more?" Antenori said. "This is what a free country and a free market are all about. We are going to give people a choice. You can bring your gun down. If it ain't worth $50, bring it in to Kozachik and get your gift card. If it's worth $50 or more, we'll give you cash for it. Don't go in there and sell yourself short."
"If somebody walks in with an AR-15, I'll give them $500 for it on the spot because you can't buy one for less than $800 or $900," Anternori said. "That's a good deal."
Unlike Kozachik's event, Antenori said he will also be in the market for ammunition.
"We're going a step beyond. We're telling people to bring their ammo with them," he said. "We'll buy some of that too if they want to get rid of it."
A licensed dealer will be on site to run the serial numbers of the guns they purchase to ensure none are stolen or connected to a crime, Antenori said.
"We are probably going to do a better job than the police on that," he said.
So will it be legal to turn Alvernon Way into a gun bazaar?
TPD spokesman Sgt. Chris Widmer said officers won't interfere in any sales between private parties.
"We won't get involved as long as it's done on public property," Widmer said.
Antenori said he checked with both the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and state attorneys who confirmed it is legal as long as the guns are for his personal collection and he won't be turning around and reselling them.
Not only will he be giving folks a good deal, Antenori said, he will also be providing a public service.
"We are going to save tax money," he said. "Kozachik is not being truthful when he says it isn't going to cost the taxpayers any money. The fact that he's holding it at the police station and using police resources to store and process these firearms is costing people money. And he's taking police officers who could be fighting crime off the streets to do his superfluous, touchy-feely, worthless political stunt."
Kozachik said it's unfortunate there are people willing to mock this event, and that speaks volumes about them.
"I just wish these guys would take this issue a little more seriously than trying to minimize it by playing games," Kozachik said. "The people who are participating in this are doing so to make their homes safer by getting rid of unwanted firearms. And these guys that just make a joke out of it only marginalize themselves as serious contributors to this community."
Kozachik said if Antenori goes forward with his plan, he is only underscoring the problem with the private gun sales loophole.
"If anybody walks up and offers to buy a gun from somebody standing in line and that person, by law, does not have to do a background check on them, they couldn't make it any clearer to the state Legislature and the citizens of Tucson that we have a hole in the system right now," Kozachik said. "And we need to have a serious discussion on how to fix it."
Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or firstname.lastname@example.org