Cities like Tucson have continued to hold the buy-back events and destroy the weapons.
PHOENIX (AP) _ A bill that would ban cities and counties from destroying guns turned in during buy-back programs passed a divided Arizona House of Representatives committee on Wednesday.
Justin Pierce, R-Mesa, chairman of the Public Safety committee, said he's been getting thousands of emails from constituents opposed to the practice.
``Why should it be the responsibility of the state to destroy this property,'' he asked, saying someone who wants a gun destroyed can pay someone to do so.
Buy-back programs are designed to give people a safe place to get rid of unwanted weapons.
The bill was designed to eliminate a loophole in a law passed last year that required police agencies to sell seized guns. Cities, including Tucson, have continued to hold the buy-back events and destroy the weapons.
The bill passed the Public Safety committee on a 5-3 party-line vote despite opposition from minority Democrats and testimony from Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, who said buy-back programs give people who no longer want guns in their homes a safe way to dispose of them.
She said some are worried the weapons could be stolen, and others want to prevent a family member from accessing them.
``There are many, many reasons, but they would never fathom that the guns they turn in would be recirculated again,'' Wilcox said.
Representatives of gun rights groups also argued that the government should not be in the business of destroying weapons. They noted the government doesn't destroy other seized or donated property such as cars.
Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, backed that argument, and said the proposed bill was needed to prevent cities from skirting last year's law.
Wilcox, who has sponsored buybacks in Phoenix over the years, said she believes the intent of the bill is to eliminate the events altogether.
She said there's no way people would participate without police being on scene for safety and then destroying the weapons.
Wilcox, a Democrat who is an advocate of gun safety measures, was shot in the buttocks as she left a Board of Supervisors meeting in 1997. Larry Namas told reporters he shot her because she supported a controversial tax to help pay for a baseball stadium for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The bill must still make it through the Rules and Judiciary committees before heading to the full House.