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02-28-2007, 04:42

Bill would protect right to keep weapons during an emergency
Measure inspired by confiscations after Katrina

Mary Jo Pitzl
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 28, 2007 12:00 AM

The governor of Arizona could not take over residents' weapons during a war emergency, according to a bill that advanced easily in the House Tuesday.

Lawmakers made an exception for large caches of ammunition, an allowance that should ensure that the gun bill wins Gov. Janet Napolitano's signature.

Designed to prevent the kind of gun confiscation that happened in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, House Bill 2458 would prevent the governor from commandeering firearms and weapons during a state of war emergency.

A similar measure passed last year, only to die under a Napolitano veto. She complained that the bill was too broad, and would bar the government from removing stores of ammunition from harm's way, such as the path of a forest fire.

But an amendment negotiated by lawmakers, the Governor's Office and the National Rifle Association allows the government to intervene if stores of ammunition are found to be exposed to "dangerous conditions."

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, called the amendment a good idea.

His colleagues in the House agreed, approving the bill and its amendment on a voice vote.

"For the first time in House history, I rise in support of a Russell Pearce floor amendment," said Rep. Steve Gallardo, a Phoenix Democrat.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, echoed that support.

"This is not a trick, Mr. Speaker," she said as lawmakers had a brief discussion of the bill.

An almost-identical bill sponsored by Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, R-Chandler, was approved 22-8 by the Senate last week. Tibshraeny helped negotiate the amendment with the Governor's Office, but the agreement came too late for Senate action. He said the amendment will be included when the two bills are merged.

The New Orleans police chief confiscated residents' weapons in the wake of Katrina, citing public safety. The NRA successfully sued to have the weapons returned, and the Louisiana Legislature changed the law last year to bar such confiscations.

Reach the reporter at maryjo.pitzl@arizonarepublic.com or at (602) 444-8963.

Ok, maybe it's my Alzheimer's surging - but isn't there a pretty big gap between (1)post-Hurricane Katrina gun-grab and (2) a war emergency?

If perhaps I'm right and not just senile, what in the heck does the post-Katrina sitch have to do with "a war emergency"?

Was a "state of war" declared as a result of Katrina - or a "state of emergency"?

While I supposed it would be a good thing to have codified a prohibition against the government confiscating private weapons and (non-endangered :upeyes: ) ammo should an actual "war" break out - (and the whole semantics of what constitutes a "war", actual vs. declared vs. say, "war on terror," brings more than a rub or two) - what, exactly, is this legislation supposedly going to accomplish?