Phoenix/Ukrainian Gun Transfer: Legal or Illegal?

Photo Credit: Roman Pilipey, AFP

By Kamryn Sobel

Illegal or not illegal? Earlier this summer, on June 28th, the City of Phoenix requested a Firearms Transfer Agreement to the National Police of Ukraine. The City of Phoenix selected approximately 500-600 unclaimed firearms to be agreed upon to transfer. This was approved and submitted by Assistant City Manager Lori Bays and the Police Department. The question revolving around this topic is the legality of the transaction.

The City asked for approval of the transfer through Gruelle, a private company that exports and imports cross-border. Gruelle has also dealt with a similar transfer of weapons from the U.S. city of Miami and the Ukrainian city of Irpin last August. Per the City Council Formal Meeting with the City of Phoenix, it was approved. However, should the ordinance be rescinded?

Two Republican State Representatives, House Judiciary Chairman Quang Nguyen, and Vice Chair Selina Bliss went as far as filing a complaint saying that this agreement is illegal. In a news release sent out by the Arizona House of Representatives, it claims that this transaction is violating the law and therefore should be looked at. Due to this complaint, it will force Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes to investigate. Despite the disagreements, the City of Phoenix is still planning to move forward with their plans and has refused to act upon the complaints.

According to Arizona’s state laws, or a simplified version, these unclaimed firearms may only be SOLD and not donated. The buyer should also be authorized to receive and dispose of the weapons under federal and state law. It seems it doesn’t matter who is on the receiving end of these weapons, as Ukraine is still at war with Russia. The use of these unclaimed weapons would also be going towards a real conflict as the people of Ukraine continue to struggle.

However, just like State Representatives Bliss and Nguyen said, it is the only option for public officials to follow the law. Though this situation is under unfortunate circumstances and trying to help those in need, the City of Phoenix still needs to make sure that everything is legal in the process. If something were to happen now or in the future, it is important that safety and security is the number one priority.

This is where things get tricky. On one hand, the City of Phoenix brings to light that its actions are like a previous donation of weapons by Governor Ducey in 2022. On the other hand, could they also be praying on their own downfall for the future of firearms in the state of Arizona?

Until the investigation is complete and the report is released, it is hard to tell the outcomes of this donation. Should the ordinance be rescinded, something to consider is how to deal with these events in the future.

As a firm believer of following the law, regardless of the position of power individuals may hold, helping those in need is also extremely important. With the donation of unclaimed weapons, the investigation should also be looking at how they can go about this LEGALLY so that Ukraine, or whoever the receiver, is getting the help they need. So, it is then imperative that the City of Phoenix should carefully consider the agreement, as it could prohibit similar acts in the future.