BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) today applauded Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco for signing into law a new statute that will prohibit the kind of sweeping firearms seizures from law-abiding citizens that happened in New Orleans in the wake of last year’s devastating Hurricane Katrina.
The new state law, which took effect immediately, makes it clear that emergency powers granted to the governor and local officials “do not authorize the seizure or confiscation of a firearm, weapon, or ammunition from any individual if the firearm, weapon or ammunition is being possessed or used lawfully.” The statute does allow an officer to temporarily disarm an individual under some circumstances, but the officer is required to return the firearm to that person before they part ways.
“This law is a direct outgrowth of the joint lawsuit we filed against the City of New Orleans and St. Tammany Parish last year following Hurricane Katrina,” said SAF founder Alan M. Gottlieb. “Once state lawmakers understood the outrageous nature of last year’s gun grab, they acted properly to make sure that kind of thing never happens again in Louisiana.
“The irony is that it took leading gun rights organizations to remind the police and public officials that in the aftermath of a natural disaster, citizens still retain their civil rights,” Gottlieb observed. “People cannot be stripped of their property, including firearms, without warrant or due process. That’s what our lawsuit was all about, and that’s what this new law insures.”
SAF was joined in the landmark New Orleans lawsuit last September by the National Rifle Association on behalf of SAF and NRA members residing in the storm area. After New Orleans police and visiting officers from other jurisdictions began taking guns, attorneys for the two groups secured a restraining order from federal Judge Jay Zainey that brought the gun seizures to a halt.
“The right to keep and bear arms is an individual civil right protected by both the Louisiana and federal constitutions,” Gottlieb said. “It is not subject to the whim of any official, and this new law makes that absolutely clear.”