The city of Phoenix plans to send hundreds of unclaimed guns to Ukraine, around 500 to 600 guns, over the next two years.
The Phoenix City Council approved the measure during last week’s formal meeting. The city will give the guns to a private company headquartered in Pennsylvania, D.T. Gruelle, who will then transport them to the National Police of Ukraine. The city will expend nothing for the transfer.
The approximately $200,000 in firearms given to Ukraine will only be 9mm, 45mm, 39mm, and 12 gauge. The firearms transfer agreement is binding for two years: June 28 of this year to June 28, 2025.
However, the gun donation may be unlawful.
Arizona House Judiciary Committee leaders immediately contacted Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego over the arrangement. In a letter, the committee members warned that the gun donation violates state law.
Reps. Quang Nguyen (R-LD01) and Selina Bliss (R-LD01), chair and vice-chair of the committee, urged Gallego to repeal the ordinance.
The lawmakers noted that state law prohibits political subdivisions from enacting any ordinance concerning the possession, sale, transfer, purchase, acquisition, or use of firearms.
The lawmakers also noted that state law doesn’t permit cities or other local governments from disposing of their firearms through donations. Rather, statute permits local governments to either trade the unclaimed firearms to a federal firearms licensed business in exchange for items like ammunition or weapons, or sell the unclaimed firearms to an authorized business who will then sell those firearms to the public.
The pair reminded Gallego of Brnovich v. City of Tucson, in which the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the city of Tucson’s ordinance ordering the destruction of unclaimed firearms conflicted with state law.
It appears that Phoenix’s donated guns may not only go to the National Police of Ukraine, but the citizens themselves.
The company contracted to take the unclaimed guns, D.T. Gruelle, has close ties to the Ukrainian government. Their managing director, Marco Gruelle, sits on the board of Ukrainian Arsenal of Liberty (UAL): a group created by Ukrainian Parliament members for the purpose of arming citizens. Parliament member Maryan Zablotskyy sits on UAL’s board.
Also on UAL’s board are Oleksandr Markushyn, mayor of the city of Irpin, and Ivan Slobodyanyk, chair of the Union of Local Communities and Farmers Union of Ukraine as well as a fighter in the Territorial Defense Force.
According to UAL’s donation brief, they utilized donated and unused guns obtained by American states’ police forces. Unclaimed guns are held by the Phoenix Police Department; as the Arizona Daily Independent first reported, the donation plan didn’t mention tracking measures for the guns once donated.
The company first engaged in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict last February. D.T. Gruelle has provided “critical aid transport” to various conflict zones since 2019.
That same year that D.T. Gruelle began providing conflict zone assistance, it established its 501(c)(3) nonprofit, D.T. Care, which currently provides emergency relief to Ukraine. Marco Gruelle also serves as president of D.T. Care. In its last annual report, issued in 2021, D.T. Care distributed over $361,000 in relief to South Africa, Panama, Lebanon, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, respectively.
D.T. Gruelle was founded in 1982 by Durard Timothy Gruelle, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War who continues to preside over the company today.
Governor Hobbs has proposed a budget that is a radical’s dream. It increases funding for a laundry list of pet programs of the radical left, while at the same time cutting programs that are supported by the vast majority of Arizonans. The Hobbs budget expands funding for illegal immigrants and increases taxpayer funding of abortions. At the same time, Hobbs would kill the expansion of our popular parental school choice program and defund the Border Strike Force.
House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci describes the Hobbs budget: “Attacking school choice, peddling state-funded abortions, and incentivizing illegal immigration in Arizona are all non-starters and, frankly, something you’d expect to see proposed by a politician in California, not Arizona.”
In response to Hobbs’ radical budget, Republicans passed a responsible, “baseline budget” which would continue state spending at last year’s budget levels, with adjustments to education and health care programs to account for inflation. When asked if Hobbs would reject the baseline budget Rep. Biasiucci responded, “If she does that, it’s party politics. This is everything we need to make sure that schools don’t shut down, make sure government stays open, make sure all our essential services stay open while we figure out what we need to do with the rest of the money.” Unfortunately, Hobbs vetoed the legislature’s reasonable budget. She is playing a game of chicken, threatening a government shutdown.
If Republicans stay united, the taxpayers will be protected from the free-spending Democrats. Given the one-vote margin in each house, we can’t afford to lose a single Republican vote. To protect us from Hobbs’ costly budget, it is essential that Republicans stick together.
I have heard disturbing reports that some Republicans are quietly signaling they are willing to cut a deal with the Democrats behind the backs of their leadership. That would severely weaken the bargaining position of Republicans as they negotiate for smaller government. More important, it would betray their constituents who voted for them based on their promises to limit the growth of state government.
Why on earth would Republicans be willing to cave to the Hobbs budget? There are a couple of possibilities. They could trade their votes for a pet project. Or they could be self-promoters with a messianic complex seeking acclaim from the liberal press as “rising above the partisan bickering.”
Believe it or not, it could happen here in Arizona. Around the country and in Congress, turncoat Republicans have made side deals to expand government spending. And though it seems odd, these quislings frequently represent “safe” Republican districts. Senator Romney comes to mind, and he is not alone.
In California, back when Jerry Brown was governor, a Republican representing the most Republican district in the state voted for the bloated budget after she had promised to oppose it. When asked why she flipped, she blithely replied that she got a new library for UC Irvine. Another Republican sold out for even less—Willie Brown promised him an office with a wet bar in it. Judas at least got thirty pieces of silver. As sure as night follows day, the press heaped praise on both of them for their “courage” in avoiding a budget impasse. But in truth, they voted against the interests of their constituents.
To avoid such a betrayal from happening here in Arizona, conservatives must press their representatives for a firm commitment that they won’t cut a side deal on the budget. We must lock in those commitments now and shut down any side deals before negotiations start in earnest.
My State Senator is Ken Bennett, and my representatives are Quang Nguyen and Selena Bliss. LD 1 is the most Republican district in the state. Conservatives shouldn’t have to worry about them keeping faith with their promises to the voters, but as President Reagan told us, “Trust but verify.”
Therefore, I am asking all three for a firm commitment that they will only vote for a budget that is supported by the rest of their Republican colleagues. The great conservative Senator Everett Dirksen famously said, “When I fell the heat, I see the light.” And I hope conservatives in all Republican districts will turn up the heat, so Republicans stay united to protect the wallets of the taxpayers.
Otherwise, it will be every legislator for themselves, and they’ll cut the hog fat. And we the taxpayers will be the hog.
Pat Nolan is the Director Emeritus of the Nolan Center for Justice at the American Conservative Union, and lives in Prescott.
Arizona may no longer have a pro-life governor, but Republican legislators are working hard to champion family values at the State House and Senate – and they turned out en masse to this week’s Arizona Right to Life March in downtown Phoenix.
Senate President Warren Petersen attended the event and issued the following statement before the March: “Today we will MARCH FOR LIFE! One of the key reasons I am republican is because we believe in the sanctity of life.
The Arizona Senate Republican Caucus tweeted, “Every life is precious and deserving of protection. As pro-life advocates, we believe in upholding the dignity and value of human life from conception to natural death. At today’s #MarchForLife at the Capitol, Republican Senators and Representatives showed their support and assured Arizona residents that we will continue to fight for the most vulnerable.”
House Speaker Ben Toma also attended the March for Life, saying, “Honored to address today’s March for Life at the State Capitol. As the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, I will ALWAYS fight protect the good laws that we have passed in this state to safeguard the sanctity of life!”
House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci released a photo from the stage of the rally at Wesley Bolin Plaza, showing all the Arizonans who showed up to stand for life.
Representative David Marshall tweeted a picture of him on the March for Life sage, stating, “Thousands came out to support the unborn, Praise the Lord!”
Representative Matt Gress pledged his support to pro-life causes and laws at the rally, saying, “What an amazing day at the Capitol! We marched with thousands of Arizonans who believe life is a sacred human right. We will do all that we can to fervently protect that right.”
Senator Wendy Rogers tweeted a picture of her and her colleagues standing on the rally stage with the caption, “Honored to stand for #MarchForLife at the Arizona Capitol today.”
Senator Justine Wadsack shared photos of the March for Life rally, including one with her LD17 seatmate.
Representative John Gillette thanked all the individuals who attended the rally and March for Life: “We are grateful for the support and the thousands that turned out in support, and a big thanks to Majority Whip Martinez for getting the word out.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.
In a legislative session quickly being defined by partisan standoffs between House and Senate Republicans and Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs, one freshman lawmaker has found a bill that is bringing both sides together – and may earn a signature from Hobbs if it clears both chambers.
Representative Selina Bliss introduced HB 2617, dealing with the carrying of firearms for constables. According to the overview provided by the Arizona House of Representatives, the bill “includes an on-duty or off-duty constable, who meets certain requirements, within the definition of a peace officer who may not be prohibited from carrying a firearm except in limited circumstances.”
In an exclusive interview with AZ Free News, Representative Bliss explained that she introduced HB 2617 after learning from her own Yavapai County Constable Ron Williams “that constables and deputy constables are not part of the list in ARS 38-1113, which covers off-duty carry of firearms by peace officers. This list currently includes county attorneys, retired officers, out-of-state officers, and federal officers; but it doesn’t include constables. Currently, ARS 22-131 states that a constable is a peace officer only in the course of their duties. Therefore, the attorney general has determined that constables have no off-duty carry rights. But the attorney general has also stated that constables may be required to act as peace officers while off -duty.”
The Attorney General’s opinion that Representative Bliss referred to is from Mark Brnovich on July 22, 2016, answering questions presented by Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles.
As Representative Bliss sees it, “this conundrum puts Arizona Constables in danger given that constables may be required to act as peace officers while off-duty, but are not allowed to carry a firearm while off duty in circumstances where other peace officers are allowed to carry.”
Last week, HB 2617 was considered by the House Military Affairs & Public Safety Committee and garnered thirteen votes in support – with two Democrat members voting “present.” No member of the committee voted in opposition to the legislation.
Addressing the committee’s overwhelmingly favorable vote for her bill, Representative Bliss said, “I believe the bipartisan vote out of committee occurred because we don’t want to put our constables in harm’s way. It makes logical sense that a constable who is an elected peace officer, sometimes still in uniform while on a break from duties, should have the option to protect themselves while off duty and to also be prepared to act as would any other off duty peace officer.”
This bill awaits further action in the Arizona House.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.