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Thread: For AZCDL

  1. #1
    Regular Member me812's Avatar
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    For AZCDL

    I read on another thread that you guys are always looking for fodder for new laws. Well, here's some.

    I have a relative who has been affected by recent changes in the prohibited possessor statue, specifically A.R.S. 13-3101 (A)(7)(a), the statute concerning the mentally ill. Even though he has owned guns for years under the old statute without harming anyone, this law applies to him retroactively, (I know what most of you reading this thread are thinking. Yes, the courts have upheld the constitutionality of this ex post facto application, see State v. Olvera.) I know that the new law provides a mechanism to petition the courts for a restoration of rights, but my family member doesn't have the bucks to hire a lawyer and none of the rest of us do either.

    Here's the letter which I and another family member recently sent to our reps, explaining our suggestion to fix this while still keeping the streets safe, but none of them seem to be interested in getting behind it.

    Dear Representative so-and-so,

    I write to you today because I have serious concerns about the recent expansion of A.R.S. 13-3101 (A)(7)(a), the statute concerning deadly weapons and the mentally ill.

    To begin, I remind you that most mentally ill people are not Jared Loughner. Statistically, the mentally ill are no more violent than the general population. To make a felon of a mentally disabled person who has harmed no one, has no plans to harm anyone, and may be doing nothing more nefarious than enjoying a day of plinking in the desert is nothing less than draconian and unconscionable.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit to you that I have a personal stake in this matter. I have a family member who has been affected retroactively by this law, even though he owned guns without harming anyone for years under the old statute and was never originally even found to constitute a danger to anyone but himself. When the new statute went into effect, he decided to keep his guns because he lives in a high-crime area and he would rather be caught by the police with his now-illegal guns than be caught by the criminals without them. He was a completely law-abiding citizen until that moment when the legislature turned him into a felon. He used to only fear the criminals in his neighborhood, but now he is also afraid of the police. This is totally counterproductive for both police and peaceable citizens like my family member.

    If the state is going to cast its net this wide with regard to the mentally ill in possession of deadly weapons, then violations of A.R.S. 13-3101 (A)(7)(a) should be reclassified as a misdemeanor offense. The law should also be amended so that it does not to apply to persons possessing deadly weapons within a private residence where they have a right to be.

    I fully realize that sometimes there's a need for the police to be able to get mentally ill people in possession of deadly weapons off the streets. Amending the law as I have suggested will leave police that tool and will also avert felonizing the non-violent mentally ill. I also realize that the new law provides a mechanism to petition the courts for a restoration of rights--that was very nice of you--but most disabled people (like my family member) can't afford lawyers, you see.

    New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and most other states in the Mountain West are far less harsh on this issue than we now are here in Arizona. It's time that we rejoined them. I hope that you will support ending this felonization of the non-violent mentally ill. Arizona already has the highest likelihood of any state that a severely mentally ill person is in prison rather than in a hospital. We don't need to inflate this shameful statistic even further.

    Sincerely,
    My Name
    GOA life member
    My Address
    city, State Zip code
    Given recent events I find it unlikely that legalizing possession in the home would be passed, but I think we still have a chance of reclassifying it as a misdemeanor or at least a class 6 felony "wobbler."

    Anyway, you said you're always looking for fodder for new laws. Here it is.
    Last edited by me812; 01-15-2011 at 02:46 AM.

  2. #2
    Regular Member azcdlfred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by me812 View Post
    I read on another thread that you guys are always looking for fodder for new laws. Well, here's some.
    I've forwarded the link to this thread to my fellow AzCDL board members.

    As an FYI, leaving messages for AzCDL here is hit and miss. I'm the only board member who watches this forum and that's dependent on my available time. During the legislative session, that shrinks close to zero.

    The best way to reach me is a direct email to treasurer@azcdl.org, a general email to info@azcdl.org (goes to most of us), or you can contact any Board member directly.

    Fred

  3. #3
    Regular Member me812's Avatar
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    OK, thanks. In the future, I'll email AZCDL directly.

    Now that I've got your attention here, though, (I presume that you're subscribed to this thread) another good idea might be to force the state to provide free legal representation to anyone retroactively affected by the prohibited possessor statute. Now that the Second Amendment has been found by the Supreme Court to be an individual right, this is probably required by the Sixth Amendment per Gideon v. Wainwright.

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