Hundreds of guns seized by Phoenix police could end up back on the streets every year under a proposal to resell the weapons instead of melting them down, reports the Arizona Republic. Phoenix vice mayor Dave Siebert asked the Phoenix Police Department to explore the issue of selling guns to licensed firearms dealers to fund the Silent Witness program, which pays rewards for tips that lead to arrests. The request comes as violent crime is rising in the Valley and nationwide and fatal police shootings climbed to the highest mark in nearly three decades. A Phoenix police officer was shot to death in July by a person with a stolen gun.
Opponents say it doesn’t make sense for police to put more guns on the streets. Siebert said the criticism is “absurd.” Guns would be sold only to licensed firearms dealers and buyers would have to undergo background checks to purchase them, he said. Experts say the idea runs contrary to law-enforcement efforts to reduce the supply of firearms by cracking down on people who sell them unlawfully instead of just on career criminals who possess them when they shouldn’t. “Even with the availability of legal weapons, you don’t see cities promoting broader availability,” said Scott Decker, director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. “This would be really promoting getting guns back on the streets.”