Fairfax, VA - This week, legislation to prohibit firearm confiscation (HB 285) was filed in Florida to help preserve the right of citizens to lawfully possess firearms during an officially declared state of emergency. The bill was filed by Florida Representative Mitch Needelman (R - Melbourne) and has the full support of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
“The breakdown of civil order in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina demonstrates that Americans’ right to keep and bear arms are especially important during a state of emergency,” declared Chris W. Cox, NRA’s chief lobbyist. “As promised, the NRA is taking measures to ensure that the Second Amendment is not another casualty during a declared emergency in every state across the country. This week, Florida becomes the first state to take that important step.”
HB 285 clarifies the authority of the governor during a declared emergency by asserting that “nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of firearms that are lawfully possessed.”
The New York Times reported in early September that legally possessed firearms were being confiscated from law abiding citizens, quoting the superintendent of police that "only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons." A Louisiana state statute allows the chief law enforcement officer to "regulate possession" of firearms during declared emergencies.
NRA saw two recent victories in preserving Second Amendment rights during times of emergency. In a lawsuit filed in late September, the United States District Court in Louisiana sided with NRA by issuing a restraining order to bar further gun confiscations from peaceable and law-abiding victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Responding to more NRA legal pressure, FEMA announced this week it is overturning its own policy that prevents law-abiding gun owners from bringing legal firearms with them when staying in temporary housing trailer parks.
"We appreciate Rep. Needelman acting quickly to protect Florida's law-abiding citizens," said Marion P. Hammer, past NRA president and current Executive Director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida. “The purpose of the Second Amendment is to provide lawful Americans with the means to protect themselves and their loved ones. And that right is of utmost importance during a time of disaster.”
HB 285 has been filed for consideration in the 2006 Session of the Florida Legislature. The Legislature is slated to convene on March 7, 2006.