Following concerns raised by NRA, the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) has changed its policy regarding firearm ownership in temporary housing units, as storage and possession of firearms are no longer banned at FEMA temporary housing. FEMA officials notified NRA attorneys last 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.
"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 Executive Director Chris W. Cox added: "NRA-ILA worked with FEMA authorities to help right this injustice. We're pleased that FEMA has formally changed its regulations nationwide on the possession and storage of firearms by law-abiding victims of disasters in their temporary housing parks. We're glad a potential lawsuit could be avoided."
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 working with FEMA officials to reverse this policy as soon as the directive was issued.
This is the second major victory for NRA and gun owners in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. Earlier, the New Orleans Police Department was ordered to cease and desist its gun confiscation operations by the United States District Court for the Eastern District in Louisiana. NRA is now working to review and modify language in emergency statutes in Louisiana and other states to ensure gun confiscations do not happen again.
"NRA-ILA will address this at the state and federal levels, and efforts are currently underway. 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 have under these circumstances," concluded Cox.