Yvonne Wingett Sanchez
February 17, 2012
The Arizona governor could deploy an armed, volunteer militia to respond to natural disasters and patrol the Arizona-Mexico border for illegal immigrants and drug-traffickers under a legislative proposal to fund a state guard.
… The bill calls for a one-time cost of $500,000 from the general fund and an additional $1.4 million each year from a gang task-force fund. While there’s an anticipated budget surplus, lawmakers must deal with long-term debt and the May 2013 expiration of the 1-cent-per-dollar sales-tax increase, so it is unclear how much support this bill would have.
Arizona would join 23 other states and territories with active guards, but experts say the state would stand alone if its militia was focused on border enforcement and “combating international criminal activity.”
Most state guards serve as auxiliaries to state National Guards and assist in disaster preparation and response, recovery efforts and protection of infrastructure. State guards typically augment National Guards, a federally recognized reserve military force. Most often, state governors control the state militia, and the state’s senior military commander directly oversees them. In some instances, state-guard members have access to weapons, which are otherwise locked away in armories for safekeeping, one border expert said.