Arizona lawmaker seeks to guard gun rights by expanding militia protections

A Republican state representative wants to add specific weapon allowances and a public marksmanship program to the broad definition of the Arizona state militia.

The four-pack of legislation pre-filed for the 2018 session by Rep. David Stringer aims to revise the composition and protected equipment of the unorganized militia, which under the state Constitution currently consists of “all capable citizens” aged 18 to 45.

Stringer’s proposal includes three bills —  HB 2057, 2058 and 2059 — as well as a constitutional amendment that would remove the upper age limit on militia composition as well as spell out a list of “particularly suited firearms” protected for personal possession. These protections would include any revolver or semi-auto firearm, magazine or accessory of the type used by law enforcement in the state or the military as well allow for “sufficient quantities” of privately held ammunition for both training and emergency use.

The legislation would also establish an Arizona Civilian Marksmanship Program to promote firearms training and allow it to enter into contracts to manufacture and refurbish guns for use and sale to the public to help offset costs.

Attorney Michael Taylor, who helped craft the measures for Stringer, told the Arizona Daily Sun that the language of the bills wouldn’t end National Firearms Act requirements for those seeking items like machine guns or destructive devices, or even protect bump stocks in the event of a federal ban, but it would provide a legal umbrella of sorts against other potential gun regulations.

State lawmakers have often shown an appetite to pass laws designed to short-circuit future attempts at gun control. Last year, Gov. Doug Ducey signed new laws to block state or local laws requiring guns to use electronic tracking as well as a measure outlawing any future background check mandates for the transfer of private property, including firearms.

The 2018 joint session of the state legislature opens Monday.

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