Monday, September 26, 2005

Return weapons to law-abiders, judge demands [NOLA gun grab]

New Orleans police can't disarm evacuees

Return weapons to law-abiders, judge demands

By BILL WALSH
Newhouse News Service

NEW ORLEANS - Gun rights groups won a temporary restraining order Friday preventing police in New Orleans and a nearby parish from confiscating people's firearms when seeking to evacuate residents.

U.S. District Court Judge Jay Zainey ordered the New Orleans Police and St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office to stop taking weapons from law-abiding people and return any they already took in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

In documents filed in federal court in Baton Rouge, La., New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Police Chief Eddie Compass and St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain deny ordering the confiscation of firearms.

But news reports quoted Compass as saying that only law enforcement officials would be allowed to have firearms and Deputy Chief Warren Riley as saying, "We are going to take all the weapons."

Wayne LaPierre, president of the National Rifle Association, said his group documented 30 to 40 cases of people having their weapons taken away after Katrina hit Aug. 29.

"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," LaPierre said."The worst thing about it is that it was at a time of complete collapse of the government's ability to protect people."

In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, there were widespread reports of looting throughout New Orleans. At the outset, the city ordered the police to ignore looters and focus instead on search and rescue. But within days, crime spiraled out of control and police were directed to restore order.

To gain control of the situation, Gov. Kathleen Blanco issued emergency power orders, which allow the authorities to regulate firearms. But the suit alleged that law enforcement officials overstepped the bounds by taking guns away in violation of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.





Bit of good news..