Guest Commentary 

The governor betrayed the Second Amendment--and Arizonans' intelligence--by vetoing a gun-seizure bill

We libertarians are often viewed as either "gun nuts" or "pot heads." We are viewed this way because we believe that we own ourselves (including our bodies), and that we are not owned by, say, Gov. Janet Napolitano. We are individually responsible for our safety and security--Napolitano is not. In short, we are not the property of any government official who thinks that he is running a plantation--as does Napolitano.

Recall the video of post-Katrina New Orleans in which a gray-haired old woman was explaining to National Guard troops that she did not want to leave her home and abandon her dogs. She was walking around inside her home, asking the troopers to leave. They wanted the small revolver that she was holding in her hand--by the frame, not by the stocks. Her voice was strained as she explained the obvious fact that she needed to keep the gun while she stayed alone in her home.

That's when the troopers employed the law enforcement technique of "swarming" (a technique that was tried unsuccessfully on Rodney King, but worked just fine on the gray-haired old woman). Four or five guys pinned her to the floor and told her to relax. The woman, not being an idiot, began resisting and yelling her displeasure at the men in no uncertain terms. Most of this was edited from the broadcast.

In the next scene, the troopers were preparing to load her into the back of a truck while she pleaded with them to allow her to take her dogs along. The soldiers were actually being quite accommodating to their prisoner at this point.

The response to these images was overwhelmingly one of disgust, revulsion and anger from sea to shining sea. Anyone who does not share, or at least understand, this reaction, should consider moving to France. The French settled Louisiana, as I recall.

Here in Arizona, our eyes went from these startling images to our state Legislature. The legislators felt the heat, and responded with what I call the "that shit will not happen here" bill, otherwise known as Senate Bill 1425. This bill actually amended existing law regarding emergency powers. The substantive change was the addition of the following: "... (T)he emergency powers of the governor, the adjutant general or any other official or person shall not be construed to allow the imposition of additional restrictions on the lawful possession, transfer, sale, transport, carrying, storage, display or use of firearms or ammunition or firearms or ammunition components." This bill was passed by the Legislature and made its way to the desk of Napolitano.

Napolitano was faced with a problem. How could she tell those Republican cretins to go have sex with themselves without tarnishing her "moderate" image? Fortunately for her, there is a template for this sort of response. First, claim that you really support the U.S. Constitution and the Second Amendment, blah, blah, blah, but this particular bill just goes a little to far, etc.

It is bad when politicians lie, but it is worse when they lie and insult one's intelligence at the same time. She included her best shot at an unexpected consequence in a letter proclaiming her veto: "For example, it would prohibit the governor, or the National Guard adjutant general from ordering the movement of a store of ammunition away from the path of a forest fire." I did not make that up. It appeared in the letter. It might have actually strengthened her case if she included the following: "Besides, even if we moved all those ammunition caches out of the forests, what if space aliens descend on Arizona and spread a neurotoxin that causes everybody to go on murderous rampages--what then?" There's not enough imagination in her administration, I suppose.

Seriously, what does it say about a governor who insists on reserving the authority to spend resources on confiscating weapons from lawful possessors during an emergency--when they just might need them the most? Am I missing something? Is liberty and responsibility the birthright of the American citizen, or is it a privilege issued by the state that can be yanked when the going gets tough?

It's a shame the veto attempt failed in the Senate by one mere vote. Perhaps the 10 senators who voted against overriding the veto should be voted out of office--and perhaps Napolitano should start shopping for a villa in Nice.

More by Jonathan Hoffman


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