Firearm registration bill stirs controversy

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Navajo Nation Council Delegate Filfred Davis talks about his rifle, a 30-06 Springfield bolt action, Saturday in his hometown of Aneth, Utah.

WINDOW ROCK

The U.S. Marine who served during the Persian Gulf War says his gun registration bill will not impede on anyone’s Second Amendment rights – the right to bear arms.

Filfred Davis, the Navajo Nation Council delegate from Aneth, Utah, said the idea to register guns on the reservation is not new. He has been carefully crafting it for the last two years. But the inspiration came from an incident that occurred 19 years ago.

He was a Navajo Nation police officer at the time when the largest manhunt in U.S. history took place in the northern part of the Navajo Nation. Three survivalists, Alan Pilon, Robert Mason and Jason McVean, had shot and killed Cortez police officer Dale Claxton during a traffic stop in 1998.

Davis recalls the manhunt created a scare among the Navajo people living within the vicinity of the manhunt.

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
The serial number of Navajo Nation Council Delegate Filfred Davis’s rifle can be seen on top right of the rifle Saturday in Aneth, Utah.
Firearm registration bill stirs controversy

“I told a story that we had a manhunt back here right around the millennium” he said. “So, people got the word – I don’t know who gave out the word that anything goes – there were a lot of firearm –old folks, even grandmas, running around with 30-30s.

“You couldn’t trust anybody,” he said, “and they were suspicious of every white man that roamed through here, that just drove through here, that worked here.”

Davis said it was scary during the manhunt. He said he even saw community members carrying sawed-off shotguns and rifles with their serial numbers grinded off.

“A criminal investigator even said they even got dispatched to City Market in Shiprock where somebody is selling firearms,” Davis remembers. “And so I just want something.”

Now a lawmaker on the 23rd Navajo Nation Council and an avid hunter and gun collector, Davis says his legislation isn’t about infringing on gun rights. Should his bill pass, he only wants people living on the reservation to register their firearms with the Navajo Nation police.

“If you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t be worried,” Davis laughed. “And I’ll be the first one to register my rifles.”

Another revelation that got him to act was how “obsolete” Title 17 of the Navajo Nation Code is. And the laws that pertain to the regulating and accounting of firearms on the reservation are outdated, he said, and therefore in need of a major overhaul.

“They need more jail time, the fines needs to be increased, and we need to add more laws into our Title 17,” he said.

His colleague Edmund Yazzie, the chairman of the Law & Order Committee, said the bill not only infringes on the Second Amendment but will ultimately eat away at a Navajo citizen’s right to have a firearm.

“I am against the whole thing,” Yazzie said. “(The right to bear arms) that was our God-given right by our veterans who fought in the war and what not.”

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