Stateline Story

Arizona Governor Authorizes New State Militia

Governors from both parties have criticized the heavy use of state National Guard units in overseas fighting. Now, one of them, Arizona's Jan Brewer, has approved the idea of a " backup " militia that could be called upon to fill any security void created by international Guard deployments.

Brewer on Thursday (April 28) signed a measure that authorizes the creation of a state militia to be used in case the National Guard is unavailable or " for any reason the governor considers to be necessary, " the Arizona Daily Sun reports . While the measure does not actually require Brewer to create such a militia, it allows her to do so whenever she sees fit.

One of the sponsors of the legislation, Representative Jack Harper, suggested the new force could be called upon not only to help respond to natural disasters or terrorist attacks, but to deal with illegal immigration - long one of the thorniest political issues in Arizona. During debate on the militia legislation, Harper said the federal government's heavy use of the National Guard could leave Arizona to be " overrun by illegal immigrants, " the Daily Sun notes.

Brewer, Harper and the majority of the Arizona Legislature are Republicans. Minority Democrats strongly criticized the measure as unnecessary and inflammatory.
" Once again the country will look at Arizona and say we resurrected the spirit of Wyatt Earp and are preparing to mobilize for war, " Catherine Miranda, a Phoenix Democrat, said during debate on the bill.

Arizona's new measure, however, is not unique. The Daily Sun notes that more than 20 states already have active militias beyond the National Guard.