Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

State "Emergency Powers" vs. The Right to Arms

Monday, October 15, 2007

After Hurricane Katrina, many New Orleans residents legally armed themselves to protect their lives and property from civil disorder. With no way to call for help, and police unable to respond, honest citizens were able to defend themselves and their neighbors against looters, arsonists and other criminals.1

However, just when these people needed guns the most, New Orleans's Police Superintendent ordered the confiscation of firearms, allegedly under a state emergency powers law. "No one will be able to be armed," he said. "Guns will be taken. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns."2 (Fortunately, an NRA lawsuit brought an end to the seizures—along with a far-fetched denial that confiscation had ever been ordered. Following this, Judge Carl J. Barbier, presiding over the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, held New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Chief Warren Riley in contempt for “failure to provide initial disclosures and to compel answers to discovery” during NRA’s injunction against the City for their illegal gun confiscations.)

Of course, no one condones the mindless violence of those who would loot a helpless city, or shoot at rescue workers. But one reason for the citizens to retain a legal right to arms, is precisely because the government has no legal duty to protect them.3Legislative bodies can, and should, act to protect the self-defense rights of citizens at the times when those rights are most important.

Unfortunately, many 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. In some states, authorities are authorized to seize guns outright from citizens who've committed no crime--and who would then be defenseless against disorder.

The movement to change these laws is gaining speed. Just two months after Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana legislature--with only one dissenting vote--adopted a resolution declaring "the policy of the state of Louisiana to protect and uphold the citizens' right to keep and bear arms in their residences, businesses, and means of transport, and on their persons," condemning the seizure of firearms from New Orleans citizens, and announcing it planned to amend Louisiana's emergency powers law "to rectify the denial of these rights."4 Since then, 21 additional states have joined Louisiana by passing laws to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners by prohibiting the confiscation of firearms during a time of emergency.

Congress and President Bush also saw the need to act to protect gun owners’ rights during emergencies. H.R. 5013, the “Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act,” was introduced in the House by Congressman Bobby Jindal (LA - 1) and passed the House on July 25, 2006 with a broad bi-partisan margin of 322-99. Senator David Vitter (R-La) introduced the Senate version of the bill and added it as an Amendment to Homeland Security Appropriations, which passed the United States Senate by 84-16, the largest margin of victory for a NRA-backed measure. On October 9, 2006, President George W. Bush signed this legislation into law.

In the past, America has balanced emergency needs with respect for constitutional rights. Months before Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Congress passed the Property Requisition Act of 1941, which allowed the President, as a last resort, to seize needed war materials "upon the payment of fair and just compensation."5 The Congress, concerned about the prospect of gun confiscation, included language to prohibit registration or seizure of privately owned firearms. America and its allies went on to win the greatest armed conflict in history. Today, Congress and the state legislatures should follow that lead.


1 Felicity Barringer & Jere Longman, Police and Owners Begin to Challenge Looters, New York Times, September 1, 2005; Robert Tanner, With Guns And Generators, A Few Homeowners Stand Guard (AP), Columbia Tribune, September 5, 2005; Bob Dart, Armed Militia Protects Its New Orleans Neighborhood, Austin American-Statesman, Sept. 10, 2005.

2 Timothy Dwyer & Ann Scott Tyson, Troops Escalate Urgency of Evacuation, Washington Post, Sept. 9, 2005.

3 See, e.g.. DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dep't of Social Services, 489 U.S. 189, 197 (1989) ("[A] State's failure to protect an individual against private violence simply does not constitute a violation of the Due Process Clause.").

4 H.C.R. 39, 1st Extraordinary Session 2005 (La.).

5 Property Requisition Act, Ch. 445, 55 Stat. 742 (1941).

IN THIS ARTICLE
Emergency Powers Laws
TRENDING NOW
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Ignores Heller: No Protection for Guns It Deems “Dangerous”

News  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Ignores Heller: No Protection for Guns It Deems “Dangerous”

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinions in Heller and McDonald, many of the lower U.S. courts have been making up their own rules when it comes to the Second Amendment. Tuesday’s outrageous opinion by ...

New Hampshire Governor Signs Constitutional Carry Into Law

News  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Hampshire Governor Signs Constitutional Carry Into Law

Measure Effective Immediately. Today was a great victory for gun owners in New Hampshire when Gov. Chris Sununu signed Senate Bill 12 into law, allowing law-abiding New Hampshirites to carry their firearms in the manner that ...

Kentucky: Senate Constitutional/Permitless Carry Legislation Amended

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kentucky: Senate Constitutional/Permitless Carry Legislation Amended

Today, Senator Robin Webb (D-18) offered a strike and insert amendment to constitutional/permitless carry legislation, Senate Bill 7.

Hawaii: Anti-Gun Legislation Passes Committee

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hawaii: Anti-Gun Legislation Passes Committee

SB 898, sponsored by state Senator Ronald Kouchi (D-8), would permanently strip an individual of their Second Amendment rights, not based on a criminal conviction or mental adjudication, but based on a quasi-criminal proceeding.  The ...

North Dakota: Important Self-Defense Bills Pass House

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

North Dakota: Important Self-Defense Bills Pass House

Today, February 21, two important pro-gun bills passed the House of Representatives.  House Bill 1169, the constitutional/permitless carry bill, passed the House with a 83-9 vote and House Bill 1310, the school carry bill, passed ...

New Hampshire: Governor Sununu Signs Constitutional/Permitless Carry Bill Into Law!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Hampshire: Governor Sununu Signs Constitutional/Permitless Carry Bill Into Law!

Today, in a private signing ceremony, Governor Chris Sununu signed Senate Bill 12 into law.  Similar legislation had been vetoed by former Governor Maggie Hassan for two years in a row, but thanks to your active involvement, ...

West Virginia: Pro-Carry Legislation Introduced

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

West Virginia: Pro-Carry Legislation Introduced

Multiple pro-gun bills were introduced this week in the West Virginia Legislature that seek to provide protections to West Virginians who choose to carry a firearm for self-defense. 

South Dakota: Bill Attempting to Silence NRA Passed by House Committee

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

South Dakota: Bill Attempting to Silence NRA Passed by House Committee

Today, the House Judiciary Committee heard and passed House Bill 1200 by a 9-3 vote. 

Washington: Anti-Gun Legislation Could be Heard on the Floor Next Week

Friday, February 24, 2017

Washington: Anti-Gun Legislation Could be Heard on the Floor Next Week

As early as next week, the Washington House of Representatives could hear and vote on House Bill 1122 and House Bill 1483.

Iowa: Pro-Gun Bill Passes Subcommittee

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Iowa: Pro-Gun Bill Passes Subcommittee

Today, House Study Bill 133, the omnibus bill which would make many pro-gun reforms for Iowa gun owners, passed its subcommittee hearing.  HSB 133 will now go to the full House Judiciary Committee for further consideration.  ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

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.