The United States is a big and complex country. Disasters, both natural and man-made, occur often. People do their best to get through them, sometimes succeeding, and other times failing. One thing disasters are never an excuse for though, is taking away Americans’ rights.
Yet, that’s what happened in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina tore into Louisiana and devastated New Orleans. Despite the Second Amendment of the United States, and Louisiana’s own constitutional declaration of rights, which reads “The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall not be infringed,” the government participated in an illegal gun confiscation scheme.
Authors Gordon Hutchinson and Todd Masson examined the breach of citizens’ rights in Louisiana in their book, The Great New Orleans Gun Grab: Descent into Anarchy. Nevada Carry, an organization that covers gun rights, open carry, and concealed carry, reviews the book on its blog, writing:
The lawlessness described includes that of criminals, looters, and most notably, the police.
New Orleans was the site of systematic and pervasive illegal, unconstitutional seizures of legally owned firearms. Police beat citizens possessing firearms and arrested the gun owners as means of retaliation. Some guns were discarded into canals, others were destroyed, and many were stolen by officers for personal gain.
The horror stories of police corruption, police looting, police murder, and civil rights violations galore are well-know. The New Orleans Police in the aftermath was an ineffectual force acting as nothing more than armed bullies. Defiance of the police did bring swift and severe retaliation in many cases. Armed resistance against tyrannical police abuse would have likely brought an overwhelming assault from mixed local, state, federal, out-of-state law enforcement and military forces. An out-of-control government had its day, failing to protect its citizens from each other, but yet denying them an ability to defend themselves.
The following excerpts are from the book.
“Police Superintendent Eddie Compass stated: ‘No one will be able to be armed. We are going to take all the weapons.’”
“The police even stopped private citizens with their vehicles packed, trying to leave the city in the weeks after the storm. Though they were obviously trying to evacuate, the police would pull their vehicles over, ask the passengers if any guns were in the vehicle, and make them unload their belongings on the street until the firearms were found.
“The cops would then confiscate the guns, frequently refusing to identify themselves or allow the citizens to copy down the serial numbers. In depositions given to NRA and SAF attorneys, some citizens described their firearms being broken and damaged before their eyes by smashing the guns into the pavement.”
“A common explanation for the behavior of the cops in New Orleans was that the city as ‘under martial law.’ Thus many people, even the victims of the thuggish and criminal behavior of the police at the time, believed the activities of the police and military units were justified because the city was under such an order[…] Nothing could be further from the truth… In point of fact, there was no martial law order in the aftermath of Katrina[…]
“[…] persons purported to be strong defenders of the police, and used half-truths and innuendo to bolster their arguments in the same way they accused the outraged gun owners of ding. They offered the argument that New Orleans had one of the highest murder rates per capita in the nation. The police and National Guard units did not have any way to determine who might or might not shoot them if they came upon an armed citizen, so they had the right to disarm them all.”
Culture is Important
The authors point out that gun confiscation was a habit of the New Orleans Police. Such seizures described below are clear violations of the 2nd and 4th Amendment.
“For years, it has been common practice for traffic and other divisions of NOPD to demand see receipts proving ownership of any guns in the vehicles that were stopped. If receipts could not be produced, the guns would be taken an the owner told he or she could pick it up at the precinct if they could find a receipt proving ownership.
“This is patently illegal and a violation of Louisiana law, which allows the carrying of firearms in a personal vehicle. In Louisiana, the vehicle is considered an extension of the home, and thus a firearm can be carried loaded or unloaded, concealed or in the open, inside the vehicle.
“Many people are uncertain of their rights pertaining to firearms ownership. When the poor and minorities have an inherent distrust of the police to begin with, they would allow their guns to be taken with no protest, thus the practice became common, and was almost considered a right by the police in New Orleans. When such a mindset is entrenched, it is a small step across a narrow divide to wholesale confiscation such as occurred in the aftermath of Katrina. Thus was the practice encouraged and accelerated by the hierarchy of command in the New Orleans Police Department.”
A police officer must have probable cause that a weapon is stolen before attempting to document ownership or determine if the weapon is stolen. Demanding to see receipts, or likewise running a serial number, would constitute and illegal search. Taking it back to the station is an illegal seizure, plain and simple.
No doubt, the culture of NOPD contributed to their actions during the hurricane.
To Some, Confiscation is Unthinkable
“It’s tough being a firearms enthusiast in today’s culture. There are so many assumptions made about anyone who enjoys shooting and guns, many people actually play down their enthusiasm to avoid being typecast as someone with a lesser intellect. […] The naysayers and pseudo-intellectuals smile knowingly at gun owners, sneering behind their backs, branding them alarmists, rabble rousers, and ‘gun nuts’[…]To these types, firearms enthusiasts are cartoons; they’re knuckle-dragging, chest-beating, slope-headed Neanderthals.
“To these people, the danger of gun confiscation, which removes the people’s right to protect themselves against their own government, is a joke that can never happen.”
No Respect For the Law
After being asked what would happen after another devastating hurricane, New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley said: “‘During circumstances like that, we cannot allow people to walk the streets carrying guns. As law-enforcement officers, we will confiscate the weapon if the person is walking down the street, and they may be arrested.’ In direct contravention of newly minted state law, and reaffirming the actions of the police were illegal in Katrina’s aftermath, the police chief promised they would do it again.”
Action Line: “To some, confiscation is unthinkable.” That line was written in 2015, but after Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke told Americans in 2020 that confiscation is EXACTLY what they want to do, it should surprise no one today. There are two things you can do today to protect yourself, escape the city, and get your gun and your training.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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