Senate approves measure to bar emergency gun confiscation

[JURIST] The US Senate approved [press release] an amendment [S 7437 text] to a Homeland Security Appropriations Act 2007 [text; summary] Thursday that would prohibit the confiscation of legally owned guns during emergencies by a margin of 84-16 [roll call]. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) [official website] proposed [recorded video] the amendment in response to Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive]. During and after the disaster emergency workers and others feared for their lives if looters obtained guns from stores; local authorities made various confiscation efforts later challenged in court [JURIST report] but Vitter stated that the "declaration or state of emergency in and of itself does not give anyone the right to confiscate guns." He said 10 other states - Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, Alaska, Idaho, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma - now have similar laws. The National Rife Association [advocacy website] supported the legislation [NRA backgrounder]. Following its passage, NRA Chief Lobbyist, Chris Cox, said:

After Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Police Superintendent issued orders to confiscate firearms from all citizens, allegedly under a state emergency powers law. With that one order, he stripped the one means of self-protection innocent citizens had during a time of widespread civil disorder. This legislation guarantees that will never happen again.
Read the full NRA statement.

The House of Representatives version [HR 5441 text] of the domestic security spending bill passed earlier, and the House will now have to consider the gun confiscation amendment. Reuters has more.


 

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