Navajo Nation residents may soon have to register their firearms under new bill

Legislation recently introduced in the Navajo Tribal Council would require those residing in the nation to register their guns with tribal police.

The bill, 0114-17, would modify the Navajo Nation Code and create the Navajo Nation Firearm Act which, among other clauses, would mandate firearms to be logged in a central registry.

Delegate Davis Filfred, who sponsored the legislation, told the Daily Times he did so “to have better gun control” and accountability for firearms circulating on the nation.

While the Navajo Bill of Rights and Nation Code guarantees a right to keep and bear arms “in a manner in which does not breach or threaten the peace of unlawfully damage or destroy or otherwise infringe upon the property rights of others” it does so with no provision to register firearms in the nation.

The filing would amend this by adding a number of definitions of firearms similar to federal law, then mandating a central firearms registration and transfer record maintained by the Navajo Nation Police Department. The agency would catalog the firearm itself as well as the identification and address of the person in possession of it. Vintage or homemade firearms made after 1898 without serial numbers would have to be serialized to comply with the mandate.

Those who own a gun currently in the nation would have to register within 180 days and keep a copy of the registration. Before a registered gun could be transferred to another person, an owner would first have to contact tribal police and get authorisation. This includes “selling, assigning, pleading, leasing, loaning, giving away or otherwise disposing of” any registered firearm.

Navajo Nation Police Chief Phillip Francisco said he supports the move. One of the agency’s officers, Houston James Largo, 27, was shot and killed last month while responding to a domestic call near Prewitt, New Mexico.

The Navajo Nation Council is the legislative branch of the Navajo Nation and consists of  24 elected council delegates who represent 175,000 members across Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.