Arizona Law, Armed Citizens and Law Enforcement: Future Solutions?Submitted by Smudge Pot on Wed, 01/16/2013 - 12:32
Arizona isn't exactly the darling of the anti-gun left to begin with.
While the nation rants and raves about gun control, high capacity magazines and asking your dear old granny if you ever pulled a cat's tail here's Arizona considering LIGHTENING restrictions on the bearing of arms.
I'm trying to figure out which restrictions because frankly we don't have many left. We still can't carry them in schools, courts and businesses or properties which forbid them. "Illegal arms" here, I believe, might still include a shotgun with a barrel under 20" or something which is rather arcane at this point. At this moment I think I could go downtown with a rifle, a sidearm, a bow and arrows, a knife, a dagger, a sword, a spear, a tomahawk and a big spiked helmet and all I would attract is tourists. Or howling shrieks from gun grabbers should a photo of me so arrayed "go viral".
You may have heard about our (NOT) favourite Sheriff Joe Arpaio once again grabbing headlines for proposing to put his "posse" to guard schools, a measure that was met with scorn and derision for the one good reason that everything Sheriff Joe does is primarily for Sheriff Joe and if he can gain attention for doing nothing then by Gods, nothing can stop him.
All of the other reasons for laughing at this proposal are belied by our legislative and law enforcement histories and their real and meaningful continuity through today.
Let's talk militia.
Our state constitution defines our state militia as all able bodied persons ages 18-45. It THEN defines the Arizona National Guard as being the ORGANISED MILITIA, pretty craftily leaving the REST of the militia UNORGANISED. It's pretty modern, having been revised as recently as 1986 I believe to change "able bodied men" to "able bodied persons" (welcome to the militia, ladies!) and state law around this time defined that this service cannot be made COMPULSORY. Authority over this militia resides in our state governor who doesn't in fact need federal help with border security, he or she can simply raise the unorganised militia to deal with it.
Well, there's an outfit operating right now called the Arizona Rangers that claim gubernatorial recognition (authorisation, whatever) and they wear modern police-like uniforms and badges, they train extensively in police work and horsemanship. They are armed, they have their own command structure and they try to fit in wherever they can. They are sort of historical revivalism taken to the point of necromancy and their main but subtle and unspoken point is they are here to assist in the maintenance of law and order if and when necessary. Plus they love getting involved in parades. But here's this legal framework deployed or in training in real life right now. I mean right this very second, no matter who you are, where you are or when it is where you are, Arizona Rangers maintain 24 hour readiness. It might be sort of murky and under-stated but it's there. AND IT CAN'T BE NATIONALISED. And they aren't the only thing.
How about possies?
Not just for bangers anymore. Oh wait that's not ghetto slang here. You know, the real ones from the movies where the sheriff rides into town and gets the possy of boys together with rifles to confront the cattle rustlers? Well it's not really like the movies then or now. These are STANDING POSSIES. Not like a one-and-run type of deal. They are trained and ready to respond whenever called.
By tradition and practice to this very day, our sheriffs are free to train and maintain possies of citizens, and these citizens assume variable degrees of deputorial or constabulatory powers while deployed. On top of our fairly intense recognition of powers of citizen's arrest and detainment. These are often called "Jeep Possies" mostly for PR purposes but it also describes their main assignments which involve covering vast areas of land in scenariors like search and rescue and evacuations from wildfire and again, parades and fairs.
As much of a pompous self-serving sand sack Sheriff "Nicklebag" Joe Arpaio is, he's got one of the best possies in the nation going, I think these guys do a respectable 120 hour training course covering basic law enforcement (heavy emphasis on what they CAN NOT DO) and desert driving, Nickelbag and most of our sheriffs have literally hundreds of people theoretically ready and able to serve. They get to be armed in the AIRPORT which is all TSAd and fedded out. At air shows and festivals. Directing traffic.
Somehow now matter how peripherally you get involed in any kind of law enforcement even at the merest volunteer level, directing traffic is so in your future. Get rain gear, get a snow suit and get a really big parasol now and be prepared.
Yeah so once again THEY ARE ALL ARMED AND THEY CANNOT BE NATIONALISED. The possies can't even be coopted by the GOVERNOR because the sheriffs here know THEY HAVE ARREST POWERS OVER THE GOVERNOR. Arizona is a perfect model of what Sheriff Joe Mac and the boys talk about because our county Sheriffs are basically here to serve the Arizona constitution (although this has been obfuscated by history and practice as well).
So what about us normal citizens?
Castle doctrine has eradicated duty to retreat. Now it's FREEDOM to retreat which I prefer vastly, sounds like a joke but now we can also "present" or even "brandish" in certain circumstances. For instance if I think you are about to attack me, I can "reveal" my sidearm to you by drawing back my jacket. I can rest my hand on the backstrap and I can unholster in a potentially deadly encounter WITH THE INTENT TO WARD OFF VIOLENCE. This is by no means a "license to kill", what it does is offer us a whole range of PHASES OF RETREAT or even approach.
As a side note, this has changed the way we train people for CCW and such things because in practice, the old laws led training to an "all or nothing" type of thinking I can summarise as "If you draw you might as well fire, if you fire you might as well kill them, dead men tell no testimony" type of mentality which I always abhorred.
But let's look back in time a bit.
Arizona laws, from county to county and by state, have some built in scenarios like kidnapping, murder, access to water, land rights, livestock ownership issues and perhaps above all, ARSON. People in deserts really hate fire to begin with so they really hate people that set them on purpose). These laws are generally detailed, but they generally come down to this: if you are absolutely sure you got the right man for the above, you are pretty free to use whatever degree of force necessary to prevent them from doing so to begin with and then apprehending them and then delivering them to justice as quick as you can. In the best physical condition you can (loco parentis is the other edge on that sword).
Oh yeah and we are ALL ARMED TO THE TEETH. IT'S ALMOST LUDICROUS. We have pretty much everything. When next in the Phoenix Valley, stop by the Ben Avery Shooting Range, the largest and best equipped and administered public shooting range in the U, S of A. Tour the many fine ranges there including skeet, bow, long range, moving target, silhouette, 150 yard range (great for family firing) and hear/see stuff like .50 cal handguns and automatic weapons fire. In addition to every single rifle you drool about in gun stores. Maybe you get to meet the owners and squeeze off a few. Range Masters call breaks every 15 minutes so you get a chance to shoot the poop. Bring your own arms and ammo, none of these are for sale or rent at Ben Avery Shooting Range.
Anyways you guys might be getting the idea. Here in AZ we have a number of things operating in legal framework involving citizens getting involved in law enforcement or at this level, self-policing. Which I've gotten involved with to variable degrees and in the end find it pretty rewarding. OK there was some ugly stuff which I might have done without but again in the end pretty rewarding. Somehow through it all I came out with a badge and a duty belt. And I reflect with some wistfulness that I am age-disqualified now from the Unorganised Militia Of Arizona, well, my badge is privately administered and I still consider myself part of the "force continuum" locally and am theoretically ready to respond. Just not at a moment's notice anymore. If I get woken up at 3:00 AM at this point, forget the Russians and Chinese, I wanna know GOD FREAKING ZILLA IS HERE or something just as good. It better be freaking good.
The whole point being, here's the nation screaming it's head off and here we are more of less following and getting back to the same course we charted from territorial days. If we don't have another Jared Loughner (the pitiful jerk that gunned down poor Gabby Giffords, a Federal Judge and numerous standers-by) things might go like....a totally different way in Arizona than the rest of the nation. Or are we not unique?
What is your state like in these terms? And what do you think about Arizona's potential to form an alternative solution? And what do you think about Arizona being a potential model for other states to follow going forward?