Fairfax, VA—Following concerns raised by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) has changed its policy regarding firearms in temporary housing units; storage and possession of firearms are no longer banned at FEMA temporary housing. FEMA officials notified NRA attorneys this weekend that FEMA is in the process of revamping firearms rules for temporary housing parks for all disasters but that they were taking "immediate steps to address this (ban)" at the FEMA Park in Baker, LA.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre welcomed this move saying, "It is wrong to force citizens to give up their constitutional rights in order for them to get a needed federal benefit. Our constitutional rights must be preserved even in the face of a natural disaster, a pandemic or a terrorist attack."
NRA chief lobbyist, Chris Cox added, "NRA`s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) worked with FEMA authorities to help right this injustice. We`re pleased that FEMA has formally changed their regulations nationwide on the possession and storage of firearms by law-abiding victims of disasters in their temporary housing parks."
The controversy erupted after the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff`s Department asked FEMA to ban all firearms at temporary trailer shelters where victims of Hurricane Katrina were staying rent-free while they found permanent housing. NRA began to work with FEMA officials to reverse this policy as soon as the directive was issued. The NRA was also prepared to file a lawsuit, if the need arose.
This is the second major victory for the NRA in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. Earlier, the New Orleans Police Department was ordered to cease and desist their gun confiscation operations by the United States District Court for the Eastern District in Louisiana. The NRA pledged to tighten language in emergency statutes in Louisiana and other states to ensure gun confiscations do not happen again.
LaPierre said, "The Second Amendment must never be the first casualty of disaster. The breakdown of law and order in the aftermath of a disaster - is exactly the kind of situation where the Second Amendment was intended to allow citizens to protect themselves. After Hurricane Katrina hit, and lawlessness prevailed across the region, many victims depended on their guns for survival against the roving bands of thugs, looters and rapists."
"NRA-ILA will address this at the state and federal level. Efforts are currently underway in the states. The media images of lawlessness are the most compelling images to help us make this argument. When disaster hits, 911 is nonexistent. It is wrong for government to take away the only tool for survival - a lawfully owned firearm - that victims haveunder these circumstances," concluded Cox.