A vote by the Phoenix City Council last week to donate up to 600 unclaimed guns to the National Police of Ukraine via a contract with a company specially approved for international transportation of firearms raises questions about where those guns could end up.
The plan unanimously approved June 28 is expected to transfer roughly $200,000 worth of handguns, rifles, and shotguns currently in possession of the Phoenix Police Department to Pennsylvania-based D.T. Gruelle. The guns, limited to 9mm, 45mm, or 12 gauge, are intended to benefit Ukraine’s state police force.
D.T. Gruelle is cleared by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and other federal agencies under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and more than dozen other regulations.
But some red flags are waving about the impending city contract with the company, such as what will happen to any firearms donated by Phoenix that Ukraine does not want.
And what steps will be taken to ensure the firearms do not end up in countries with anti-American attitudes or even make their way back to the U.S. for illegal purposes. Guns which ironically the councilmembers opted not to make available for sale to Arizonans for their own personal safety.
City officials have promoted a two-year arrangement with D.T. Gruelle as not costing taxpayers anything. Yet it has not been revealed how much general fund revenue will be missed out on during that period by not selling the unclaimed firearms.
It is also unknown how much D.T. Gruelle will make to broker the donation and to handle what the company characterizes as “logistics support” to clients who need to move “dangerous, difficult, and sensitive cargo.”
This support ranges includes shipping firearms and ammunition, explosives, gun powder, and military vehicles, according to D.T. Gruelle’s website.
“We have a breadth of experience due to 40 years of continuous support to the United States and over 150 other countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Ukraine,” the website notes.
It is that experience in Ukraine that muddies the water for some in Arizona given D.T. Gruelle’s partnership with the Ukrainian Arsenal of Liberty (UAL).
According to UAL, D.T. Gruelle accepts donations of legally owned firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories from within the U.S. and then arranges for secure transportation of those items to Ukraine.
“We seek to develop relationships between the Ukrainian local community police units and territorial defense forces with their US counterparts to enable the sharing of firearms and other equipment,” the UAL website further notes.
But the Ukrainian Arsenal of Liberty’s priority, its vision statement makes clear, goes beyond that.
In fact, UAL was formed by members of the Ukrainian Parliament to procure firearms in the U.S. to equip Ukrainian citizens to better defend themselves and increase the country’s defenses against hostility.
“Armed civilians are the first line of defense,” the website notes, adding that training and arming the civilian Ukrainians “is the best form of protection” from foreign invasion.
“We aim to gear and train Ukrainian noncombatants to effectively protect themselves by soliciting American citizens to donate firearms, ammunition, and support equipment,” the UAL website adds.
The Phoenix City Council could require that any contract with D.T. Gruelle contain safeguards to ensure donated guns intended for Ukraine’s police professionals do not end up owned by Ukrainian citizens or used for other purposes.
The unclaimed firearms being donated to Ukraine will not include any weapons which have been legally forfeited to the City of Phoenix under court orders.
In Arizona, forfeited guns must be sold. City officials contracted in February with Sierra Tactical Actions Inc. to handle those sales on an as-needed basis for the next five years. The city shares in the revenues generated by those sales.