Last week, the Page City Council voted on two issues that had little controversy and seem to be widely supported. But both made me stop and think.
The first was a decision to amend the city’s weapon’s ordinance. And for the record, the council had little choice but to play along.
Turns out the Arizona Legislature passed a law allowing open concealed carry almost anywhere in the state so municipalities like Page can’t restrict them. While I agree with the decision of the city council, I also disagree with the move by the Legislature.
When it comes to guns, I am about as strong a Second Amendment supporter as you will find. I don’t own a gun and haven’t for quite a while, but I am a big fan of letting law-abiding citizens carry them if they want to.
But this isn’t really about guns. This is once again about the state forcing municipalities to change their rules to meet state standards.
As a resident of Page, I like choosing the men, and sometimes women, who sit on the city council. Those people will then represent me and hopefully vote like I want them to. When the state comes in and starts issuing mandates to cities, it takes away local control and the power of my vote.
I like the new rule. I think law-abiding citizens should be allowed to carry guns. I think my family and I are safer when that happens. But even though I like the outcome on this issue, I don’t like big government forcing its views on others.
The second issue was completely local and went by without a lot of controversy. But I will admit it worries me.
The council voted to accept a federal grant to purchase a license plate reader for the Page Police Department. Up front this seems like a great idea.
The reader will be placed in a police car and it will scan every license plate it can see. The goal is to find bad guys and people the police are looking for based on their license plate number.
I like this idea a lot, with a caveat. If police use this to look for people with arrest warrants, those wanted for drug crimes, to find missing children in Amber Alerts and things like that, I love the idea. If one missing child is located, the money is well worth it. If bad guys are taken off the street, it’s a worthwhile investment.
But I fear the technology could be used for other things, and those concern me. Here’s the reality in my opinion. If a local resident is a day or two late paying for their vehicle registration, I don’t want a license plate scanner leading to them being stopped. I don’t want this technology being used for minor traffic violations until a judge steps in and issues a warrant.
I am not questioning the Page Police Department. I am certain their goal is to get bad guys, real bad guys, off the street. But with the new technology, it will be tempting and easy to also nab people who aren’t a danger. Is it a crime to drive with expired registration? Of course it is. It is also not unusual for law-abiding citizens who strive to obey the rules to be a day or two late.
If a police officer on patrol stops that driver for another offense or sees the expired sticker then so be it. But if technology designed to tackle big crimes ends up going after those who mostly obey the law, then that bothers me.
Just my opinion.