State Sen. Dean Martin wanted us to imagine the worst of scenarios: A serious disaster in the Valley has left gangs of thugs roaming the streets unchecked. Holed up in our homes and businesses, we are unable to hold back these criminals or terrorists because the governor has seized all of our guns.
This was the Phoenix Republican's justification for a proposal to deny the governor any unilateral control over privately held firearms and ammunition during a state of emergency. The Legislature approved the bill, but Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed it. Martin sought to revise the idea as a ballot measure in the final days of the legislative session. But other lawmakers demurred after the National Rifle Association launched a surprise last-minute attack.
We understand the desire to protect our fundamental rights under the Second Amendment and the state constitution. But HCR2010 was an overreaction to what happened in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans police, without any order from the Louisiana governor, seized thousands of guns from abandoned homes and then started taking firearms from people as they left the area. A federal judge put a stop to the seizures at the request of the NRA and other gun rights advocates.
Louisiana and several other states have moved to pass laws barring such actions in the future. We would support a statute that simply says law enforcement can't use an emergency as an excuse to take guns from law-abiding residents. But HCR2010 would have created a special, absolute exception to the governor's emergency powers.
Under the law, an Arizona governor can seize our homes, our autos or the food in our refrigerators if a dire situation warrants such action (and compensate us later). But HCR210 said the state's commander-in-chief couldn't touch our weapons, even if we were at war and out military troops lacked the firepower to fight back.
Martin's excuse for this? Military troops report to the president in time of war, and the president would have every right to seize our guns. So Martin expected us to trust our national leader living on the East Coast in a time of crisis, but not the person living next door whom Arizona voters elected to protect us.
We're glad HCR2010 was rejected so lawmakers can consider a more reasonable measure next year to secure our rights while protecting the governor's authority to deal with a real emergency.