On Monday May 8, 2017 at 5:30pm the Kayenta Township Commission held its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Among the agenda items was resolution #KTCMY-30-17 “Opposing Proposed Navajo Nation Council Legislation No. 0114-17 Amending Title 17 of the Navajo Nation Code and Enacting the Navajo Nation Firearms Act”. This legislation was drafted and put forth by Navajo Nation Council Delegate Davis Filfred of Aneth, UT.
This resolution was first presented to the Kayenta Township Commission at last month’s regularly scheduled meeting on April 10, 2017 but was tabled because the Commission wanted community input on the matter. The Commission directed Kayenta Town Manager Gabriel Yazzie to hold a public meeting at the Kayenta Town Hall.
This public meeting was held at 10am on May 4, 2017 and conducted by Kayenta Town Manager Gabriel Yazzie. In attendance were community members of Kayenta, the surrounding area and other communities such as Kaibeto and Oljato. Kayenta Township Commissioner Jarvis Williams, Jodonna Hall/Ward and Rodger Grey made it a priority to be at the meeting to hear the public input. Three Navajo Nation police officers were in attendance as well.
Commissioner Hall/Ward addressed the audience first at the meeting and informed the audience that this piece of proposed legislation by Davis Filfred is very important and affects each and every firearm owner on the Navajo Nation. “We want your input on this issue so we can make the right decision for this community.” Stated Ms. Hall/Ward.
Every community member that was in attendance, with the exception of the three Navajo Nation police officers, were opposed to the proposed legislation and voiced their concerns quite openly and candidly. Many stated that as responsible firearm owners they had already followed the mandatory background check when purchasing a firearm and that forcing everyone on the Navajo Nation that owned a firearm(s) to register and be put in a database is not what needs to be done to combat crime on the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo Police officers in attendance justified their support of the legislation by stating that a firearms registry would help them trace a firearm(s) used in a crime to its owner much easier. This was their only justification in support of the proposed Navajo Nation legislation.
In attendance at the public meeting was Kayenta community member Shonie De La Rosa who is an active member of the National Rifle Association and the Arizona Rifle and Pistol Association. Shonie has stated that he will fight this legislation to the very end and people need to be educated on this very important issue. “I completely oppose this legislation. In my opinion there are more important things to worry about than registering firearms. We all know that drugs and alcohol kill far more of our people than firearms do.” He further stated that, “The majority of the crimes on the Navajo Nation are drug and alcohol related and that the Navajo Nation needs to address that issue first.”
A key point that Shonie De La Rosa brought up at the public meeting was the NICS (The National Instant Criminal Background Check System). Excerpt from their web site: Mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998, NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase.
Shonie stated that local, state, county and federal agencies contribute criminal records to this NICS database and that the Navajo Nation does not contribute to the NICS database. Therefore, anyone on the Navajo Nation convicted of a crime(s) such as domestic violence, drugs, etc. that would by federal law make an individual prohibited to possess firearms could easily purchase a firearm(s) without their Navajo Nation criminal record showing up on the mandatory NICS background check. “If the Navajo Nation would contribute these criminal records to the federal database, it would make a much better impact than the proposed firearms registration Filfred Davis has proposed to the Navajo Nation.” Said Shonie.
Kayenta Town Manager Gabriel Yazzie stated, “This was a very good meeting and we received a lot of good feedback from the community about this issue. I will take the input from this public meeting to redraft the Kayenta Township resolution Opposing Navajo Nation Legislation No. 0114-17 and present it to the commission at our next meeting.”
On May 8, 2017 the redrafted resolution was presented to the Kayenta Township Commission at their regular scheduled monthly meeting. Kayenta Township resolution #KTCMY-30-17 passed that evening with a vote of 3 in favor, 0 opposed and 0 abstained.
“This is the first step in fighting this very important issue. Now that the Kayenta Township has passed this resolution opposing Filfred’s proposed legislation, everyone on the Navajo Nation needs to encourage their community leaders to do the same and pass resolutions in their chapters opposing this legislation.” Said Shonie.