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What Disaster Will Be The Next Excuse?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The National Rifle Association has implemented a two-part initiative that may be the most important in its 135-year history,” Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, said at a May 18 press conference at the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Milwaukee, Wis.

“To fully understand the significance and urgency of this announcement, keep in mind the future we face as a nation. Every day, as a people, we’re reminded that we face fearsome disasters. We’re told that terrorist attack is inevitable. We’re advised to store food and water. We’re told to be prepared for bird flu pandemics, gas shortages, hurricanes, earthquakes and other tragedies, both natural and manmade.

“We’re told no matter where we live, it can happen to us.”

With that prelude, LaPierre announced NRA’s nationwide drive to get mayors and police chiefs throughout the country to swear to uphold the Constitution and not confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens without cause, as occurred in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

America’s 1st Freedom readers are quite familiar with the illegal gun confiscations in New Orleans following Katrina--and are equally aware of the court battle NRA fought to get confiscations stopped and continues to fight to get those guns returned to their lawful owners. Yet a shameful lack of reporting on the gun confiscation by the so-called “mainstream” media has hurt the opportunity for many Americans to ever hear the true story of what really happened there.

“NRA has had news crews on the ground in New Orleans ever since the hurricane hit,” LaPierre said. “We’ve interviewed members, gun owners, investigators and law enforcement officers.

“And the truth is this: In the aftermath of Katrina, and for the first time in American history, New Orleans and other government officials ordered law enforcement officers to go door to door to confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens at gunpoint.”

Later in his speech at the annual Members Meeting, LaPierre showed detailed footage of several New Orleans residents explaining how their firearms were forcibly confiscated at gunpoint.

“That wasn’t some foreign country. That was in the United States of America,” LaPierre said. “Now, Milwaukee Deputy Police Chief Brian O’Keefe said what you just saw didn’t happen. If it didn’t happen, why did a federal judge order it to stop?

“The truth is, there is no scenario in which lawful gun owners should agree that government can come into their homes and disarm them.”

“Waukesha Police Chief Les Sharrock said guns were not confiscated. If they weren’t confiscated, why did a federal judge order them returned? West Bend Police Chief Kenneth Meuler said he’s not a fan of the NRA. Is he a fan of the U.S. Constitution?”

LaPierre said such denial that confiscation actually occurred is ridiculous since NRA has the entire episode documented and courts have ruled the confiscations illegal and ordered the firearms returned.

“I’ve got something very personal to say to them, and to Mike Wallace, and the Katie Courics, The New York Times, The Washington Post and every other anti-gun journalist and media conglomerate who buried this story. I’ve got something very personal to say to Chuck Schumer, and Dianne Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer, and Nancy Pelosi, and John Kerry, and Mayor Tom Barrett, and Governor Jim Doyle, and Mayor Mike Bloomberg and every other gun-hating politician, mayor and police chief who can hear me. I’ve got something very personal to say to the Brady Campaign, and so-called Americans for Gun Safety, and the so-called Million Mom March, and George Soros, and Michael Moore, Rebecca Peters, and the United Nations and to every other gun-hating group and Hollywood loudmouth in America. For 25 long years you’ve been telling us: ‘The government is not going to knock on doors to take people’s guns. Come on, Wayne. You’re just trying to scare people. Nobody’s ever going to do that. That’ll never happen!’

“Well, it did happen, and for the next 25 years we’ll be telling you: remember new orleans! Hurricane Katrina proved what American gun owners have always predicted: that government bureaucrats would throw the Bill of Rights out the window and declare that your freedom is whatever they say it is.”

In fact, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Superintendent P. Edwin Compass did just that, redefining “freedom” in the aftermath of Katrina as the total disarming of all law-abiding gun owners in the city.

“No one will be able to be armed,” Compass said in the days following Katrina. “Guns will be taken. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns.”

To LaPierre and millions of other freedom-loving Americans, that defini-tion of “freedom” isn’t good enough.

“When the Second Amendment is only as good as your mayor or your police chief says it is,” LaPierre said, “the NRA must take action. We’re asking every mayor and police chief in America to sign a pledge that says they will never forcibly disarm the law-abiding citizens of their town or city.

NRA kicked off the initiative with a full-page ad in usa today , challenging mayors and police chiefs nationwide to sign the no-confiscation pledge. In the text, the ad states:

“A lawful person’s right to keep a gun for self-defense shouldn’t be revoked due to storm tracks, disease epidemics, tornado paths, flood levels, wildfires, Richter scales, street riots, terrorist events or the impulse of local bureaucrats. … We’re asking every mayor and police chief to sign this pledge: ‘I will never forcibly disarm the law-abiding citizens of (city name).’”

LaPierre pointed out that signing the pledge shouldn’t prove at all difficult for those officials who truly respect the Constitution.

“It’s an easy pledge to sign,” he said. “Mayors and police chiefs have already sworn to support the U.S. Constitution in their oaths of office. So signing this pledge should be just as effortless.”

By seeing which mayors and police chiefs sign the pledge and which don’t, citizens of communities throughout the nation will quickly find out where their city officials stand on the Second Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

“Now Americans will find out, once and for all, whose side their local leaders are on,” LaPierre said. “So will rank-and-file police and military officers, who agree with us. I talked to them down in New Orleans. They hated what they saw. They were horrified when they were ordered to confiscate people’s firearms.”

LaPierre emphasized that NRA members and other citizens whose mayor fails to sign the pledge should demand an explanation for their failure to sign.

“Some mayors and police chiefs may refuse to sign this pledge,” he said. “If so, they should be prepared to explain why.

“After all, their constituents are paying their salaries and paying for their armed security guards, so they should explain under exactly what circumstances their citizens should agree to be forcibly disarmed.

“The truth is, there is no scenario in which lawful gun owners should agree that government can come into their homes and disarm them.”

Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, stressed that anyone who touts the initiative as an NRA-versus-police issue is grossly mistaken.

“Now, I want to speak directly to America’s rank-and-file police,” Cox said. “Don’t let anybody tell you this is the NRA against the police. Nothing is further from the truth.

“This is about NRA stopping your police chief or your mayor or any bureaucrat from ordering you to do what you know is wrong. The American people know it’s wrong. Law enforcement officers should never be ordered to violate the Second Amendment by breaking into people’s homes and confiscating their guns.”

Cox and LaPierre both pointed out that the new initiative doesn’t end with the pledge. The second part of the initiative is equally important.

“Right now there’s no meaningful consequence to prevent local officials from confiscating guns or subverting the Constitution at will,” Cox said. “In fact, there’s pretty good evidence (New Orleans) that you can do what-ever you want and nothing will happen to you. We’re going to change that.

“As part two of this initiative, the NRA will support the introduction of state and federal legislation that makes it a crime to forcibly disarm law-abiding citizens.

“Violation should result in arrest and hard prison time.”

LaPierre said some may believe arrest and hard prison time to be extreme in such cases. But both LaPierre and Cox recently sat for 31/2 hours at a public meeting in New Orleans listening to dozens of citizens give accounts of having their firearms forcibly confiscated. Such first-person accounts of illegal gun confiscation during a disaster give an entirely new meaning to “extreme.”

“If you think that sounds extreme, I’ll tell you what’s extreme,” LaPierre said. “When there’s been a complete collapse of the government’s ability at the federal, state and local level to protect anybody. When people need the means to protect themselves the most and their government comes knocking on their doors to confiscate their one source of comfort that can save their lives and families! That’s what’s extreme!

“If you are in a position of public authority, and you use it to disarm law-abiding citizens, you’re not going to get your hand slapped, or pay a fine, or get scolded by some judge a few months down the line. You’re going to be arrested on the spot and you’re going to jail!

“That’s how we’re going to make the first time in New Orleans the last time in America. That is the condition under which we lawful gun owners give our consent to be governed, period!”

Cox said such legislation is necessary because Katrina basically “blew a hole in the Constitution that’ll hemorrhage until we stop it.” America’s police and gun owners need this protection from out-of-control mayors and police chiefs, he said.

In fact, legislation along those lines has already been passed this spring in a handful of states, with other state legislatures also considering similar measures. And NRA-backed federal legislation has already been introduced in Congress, with floor action on the bill expected to begin shortly after this issue goes to press.

h.r. 5013--the “Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006”--was introduced in April by Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-La., and amends federal emergency statute laws to stop local authorities from confiscating lawfully owned firearms during times of disaster.

Currently, 33 states have “emergency powers” laws that give the government permission to suspend or limit gun sales and to prohibit or restrict citizens from transporting or carrying firearms during times of disaster or unrest. In some states, authorities can seize guns outright from citizens who have committed no crime--citizens who would then be defenseless against disorder.

“This bill to amend federal disaster laws is vital for the future of America,” said NRA-ila’s Cox. “Legislative bodies can, and should, act to protect the self-defense rights of citizens at times when those rights are most important.”

The NRA’s new two-part initiative shines the light of freedom on one of law-abiding gun owners’ fastest growing enemies--anti-gun mayors, typically those from large cities beset with violent crime, joining with gun-ban groups to push gun-control initiatives that such groups have failed to achieve through congressional action.

Anti-gun mayors have worked in the background for years. A good example is Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams, who has spent the last several years fighting legislation that would allow District residents to own firearms for self-defense. His success so far in fighting such measures has left residents helpless in the face of armed predators and ensured his city the status of America’s Murder Capital for 14 of the last 15 years.

Now, however, gun-banning mayors seem to be coming out of the closet and taking off the gloves in a battle to curb your Second Amendment freedoms.

In late April, 15 mayors from around the country gathered in New York City for a gun control summit hosted by nyc Mayor Michael Bloomberg. While early discussion seemed reasonable and focused on reducing violent crime-- a priority for all Americans--Bloomberg quickly took it too far, and was blindly followed by the mayors in attendance.

Among other plans the mayors signed on to was a scheme that would create a database for all guns pur-chased in the United States, amounting to a backdoor gun registry--a gun-ban scheme NRA has been fighting in one form or another for many years. All mayors present signed onto all of Bloomberg’s schemes.

These participants plan to reconvene later this year with the hopes of drawing 50 additional mayors from throughout the country to buy into their anti-gun strategies and discuss even more gun control plans. To learn if your mayor gets involved in Bloomberg’s gun control schemes, watch for a list of which mayors attend the next gun control summit in a future issue of America’s 1st Freedom.

The bottom line is this: There are two ways a mayor can go now in the United States of America concerning the freedom of law-abiding gun owners. Mayors can band with Bloomberg and sign on to a pledge to support more gun-ban schemes in the future, or they can sign NRA’s no-confiscation pledge, promising to never give the order to physically disarm law-abiding citizens under any circumstance.

Which way they choose to go will say volumes about where they really stand on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms as protected by the Second Amendment.

Emergency Powers Laws

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.