Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

A Decade Later, Remember New Orleans … Gun Confiscation Can (and Has) Happened in America

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Decade Later, Remember New Orleans … Gun Confiscation Can (and Has) Happened in America

August 29th marks the 10-year anniversary of when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, La. The memory of the devastation wrought by the storm and the resulting chaos is a human tragedy of such a vast scale that it endures to this day; and will well beyond. Further, the measures taken to disarm law-abiding firearm owners in Katrina’s wake should serve as a testament to why gun owners guard our right to bear arms so vigilantly.

The disorder of the storm’s aftermath – and the inability of local law enforcement to contain it – brought into stark realization the importance of the right to keep and bear arms in order to provide for the defense of oneself, loved ones, and community. Stories of looting and violence abounded. A police chief described post-Katrina New Orleans by stating, "it was like Mogadishu.”

Despite their inability to cope with the resulting mayhem, several days after the storm passed New Orleans officials ordered the confiscation of lawfully-owned firearms from city residents. In a September 8, 2005 article, the New York Times described the scene, stating, “Local police officers began confiscating weapons from civilians in preparation for a forced evacuation of the last holdouts still living here… Police officers and federal law enforcement agents scoured the city carrying assault rifles seeking residents who have holed up to avoid forcible eviction.”

As reported by the Washington Post, New Orleans Superintendent P. Edwin Compass made clear, "No one will be able to be armed,” and, “Guns will be taken. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns." At the time, NRA Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre noted the nature of the seizures, stating, "In many cases, it was from their homes at gunpoint. There were no receipts given or anything else at a time when there was no 911 response and these citizens were out there on their own protecting their families."

City authorities were selective with their order, discriminating against the most vulnerable. The Times noted that the city’s order “apparently does not apply to the hundreds of security guards whom businesses and some wealthy individuals have hired to protect their property… Mr. Compass said that he was aware of the private guards but that the police had no plans to make them give up their weapons.” In 2005 Ray Nagin served as the mayor of New Orleans. Nagin would go on to become a member of Michael Bloomberg’s Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns, and later federal inmate No. 32751-034, following 2014 convictions for fraud and bribery.

In the years that followed, New Orleans officials were unrepentant. In a 2006 interview with local radio station WWL, New Orleans Superintendent Warren Riley said, “During a circumstance like that, we cannot allow people to walk the street carrying guns…as law enforcement officers we will confiscate the weapon if a person is walking down the street and they may be arrested.”

NRA immediately denounced the confiscations as unlawful under state law and unconstitutional, and set to work rectifying New Orleans’ abuse of power and ensuring that no American would be faced with confiscation under a similar scenario.

NRA promptly filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against New Orleans in order to halt the city’s confiscation efforts. On September 23, Judge Jay Zainey granted a temporary restraining order barring New Orleans and the surrounding communities from further confiscations, and required that the seized guns be returned. NRA also successfully worked to lift a ban on firearm possession for those living in Federal Emergency Management Agency housing as a result of the storm.

The city dragged its feet in returning confiscated firearms to their lawful owners. However, NRA persisted until 2008, when NRA and New Orleans came to a settlement in which the city agreed to carry out an acceptable procedure for returning the firearms. The agreement allowed owners to get back their guns without documented proof of ownership, which many residents were understandably unable to provide.

NRA’s post-Katrina efforts did not stop at the Louisiana border. NRA prompted mayors and police chiefs across America to sign a pledge stating that they will, “never forcibly disarm the law-abiding citizens” of their city. Further, NRA worked to limit the power of state and local governments to regulate firearms in times of emergency, by advocating for emergency powers reform legislation throughout the country. Currently, over half of the states have some form of emergency powers provision protecting gun owners from government abuse during a crisis.

In 2006, moreover, President George W. Bush signed into law the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which contained an NRA-backed amendment sponsored by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). The amendment prohibits persons acting under color of federal law, receiving federal funds, or acting at the direction of a federal employee from seizing or authorizing the seizure of lawfully-possessed firearms or imposing or enforcing certain restrictions on firearms during a state of emergency.


Having gone through such a horrific ordeal, in the years after Katrina New Orleans residents exhibited a greater appreciation for their right to bear arms. The number of Right-to-Carry permit holders in the city doubled from 2004 to 2006. In reporting the experience of Vivian Westerman, a sixty-four-year-old that stayed in her home during Katrina, the Associated Press noted that, “So terrible was [Katrina] that [Westerman] wanted two things before the next hurricane season arrived: a backup power source and a gun.” Westerman told the AP that after purchasing a .38-revolver, “I’ve never been more confident.” In September 2008, when Hurricane Gustav threatened the city, the New York Post reported that those remaining in the city were “locked & loaded,” and detailed the stories of several armed residents.

As we remember the terrible devastation of Katrina, gun owners should further commit themselves to ensuring that Americans are never again deprived of the ability to defend themselves in their hour of need. A decade later, Wayne LaPierre’s words following Katrina are still as relevant as ever, “The lesson of New Orleans is that citizens must be able to rely on their own ability to survive. The answer once and for all to politicians who say Americans don’t need the Second Amendment, government will protect you, the answer forever more is New Orleans.”

TRENDING NOW
Kentucky: Committee to Consider Firearm Seizures Without Due Process

Friday, November 15, 2019

Kentucky: Committee to Consider Firearm Seizures Without Due Process

On Friday, November 22nd, the Kentucky state Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary will consider so called “red-flag laws.” Though no legislation has been introduced, such laws usually allow for Second Amendment rights to be suspended ...

A New Candidate for Confiscator-in-Chief

News  

Monday, November 11, 2019

A New Candidate for Confiscator-in-Chief

Former Texas Congressman Robert Francis O’Rourke abandoned his run for President last week, once again leaving a void for the most strident anti-gun candidate seeking the Democrat nomination. Even before declaring his candidacy for President, ...

Strong Firearms Preemption Laws are More Important Than Ever

News  

Gun Laws  

Monday, November 11, 2019

Strong Firearms Preemption Laws are More Important Than Ever

Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Tremp In recent weeks, gun owners have been given two prime examples of just how important strong firearms preemption laws are to the vibrant exercise of Second Amendment rights. On October ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

News  

Friday, June 27, 2008

Heller: The Supreme Decision

Leaders of the National Rifle Association (NRA) praised the Supreme Court’s historic ruling overturning Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns and on self-defense in the home, in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller.

Wisconsin: Gov. Evers Calls for Firearm Confiscation & Criminalizing Private Transfers

Friday, September 20, 2019

Wisconsin: Gov. Evers Calls for Firearm Confiscation & Criminalizing Private Transfers

On September 19th, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, Attorney General Josh Kaul, Representative Melissa Sargent (D-48), and Senator Lena Taylor (D-4) held a press conference calling on the Legislature to violate the Second Amendment by: 1) ...

National Hearing Conservation Association Supports Suppressors

News  

Monday, November 4, 2019

National Hearing Conservation Association Supports Suppressors

Photo Courtesy of Silencer Shop On October 28th, the National Hearing Conservation Association sent its new position paper on firearms suppressors to the American Suppressor Association. The paper, in short, recognizes the important role that ...

NRA Endorses Hyde-Smith for U.S. Senate

News  

Monday, August 13, 2018

NRA Endorses Hyde-Smith for U.S. Senate

FAIRFAX, Va. – The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) announced on Monday its endorsement of Cindy Hyde-Smith to represent Mississippi in the U.S. Senate. 

New Hampshire: Firearm Seizure Bill Headed to House Floor

Thursday, October 31, 2019

New Hampshire: Firearm Seizure Bill Headed to House Floor

On October 30th, the New Hampshire state Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee sent House Bill 687 to the House floor for further consideration after a motion to kill the bill failed by a vote ...

HR 218/Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA)

Gun Laws  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

HR 218/Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA)

LEOSA, as Amended by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (Jan 2, 2013) (Changes have been italicized.) § 926B.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

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.