Racism, Gun Confiscation, and Hurricaine Katrina
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is now telling his followers that the levees in New Orleans may have been deliberately "blown up" to kill the city's black population. "I heard from a very reliable source who saw a 25 foot deep crater under the levee breach," Farrakhan explained. "It may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry." Farrakhan didn't say who he thought was behind the plot to blow up New Orleans' levees, nor did he explain how tons of water might have ignored the laws of physics and flowed uphill.
I am amused and dismayed to see that people like Farrakhan and his ilk are trying to make Hurricaine Katrina and New Orleans a race issue. In America, some people have made a living exploiting racial hatred, fears and injustice. Where were they on August 15, 2005? Were they in the 9th Ward of New Orleans trying to elevate their fellow man? No. They were elsewhere, seeking the latest race cow to milk. On August 28, with thousands of people in peril, New Orleans became that cow.
Some are saying this disaster lays bare the racism in our society. I suppose it does. A lot of people are seeing skin color and not actions. Then they think they have a right to render judgement because they saw it on TV. This disaster is not laying bare the racism in New Orleans, it's laying bare the racism all across our nation. How dare the news media and race mongers strip away the courage and commitment shown by family after family of poor disadvantaged black people and then paint them with a criminal brush? More on that issue here.
Even more troubling is Mayor Nagin and Police Chief Edwin Compass' ill advised decision to disarm those who have decided to stay. These politicians were willing to sell their citizens and constituents down the river as dangerous thugs and criminals to have the opportunity to trample on the Bill of Rights. People stayed for a myriad of reasons, and they were from all stratas of society. Some did not evacuate because they cared for elderly, or invalid bed bound relatives at home, who could not be evacuated without an ambulance. Other families might have one car but ten family members. Who would stay and who would go? Others did not even have a car, but had a job their family depended on, that they could not afford to lose. For these people leaving or staying was an enormous gamble. Most chose to face the storm as a strong, honorable family. They lost the gamble.
Other men evacuated their families but stayed behind armed to protect their homes and businesses. Why did they do this? Because ahead of the storm, before anything happened, they did not expect the New Orleans Police Department to be able to prevent looting. Little did they realize that the NOPD would seek to disarm them. I have a feeling the NRA and GOA will be getting a lot of dollars that would have otherwise gone to Ducks Unlimited. Many hunting oriented gunowners just became defense oriented gun owners by the actions of one misguided police chief.
The film shot of a California Highway Patrol officer inside of Ms. Patricia Konie's home has stirred the embers it well should. Never again should anyone wonder what will happen in a major disaster with liberal politicians in control. There are some who want to wash this incident away, who want to ignore the painfully obvious. We have seen the Wal-Mart in Baton Rouge refuse to sell guns or ammunition. We have also seen every 12 gauge shotgun, and damned near every handgun leave the shelves of every pawn and gun shop in Northern Louisiana in under three days. There are thousands of evacuees in my own city who are able to legally buy firearms in North Louisiana. People are not stupid. Some may have had their eyes opened after the storm, but they are not stupid. I pity the souls who were bused out of state and are therefore unable to purchase a gun.
People want to say a mistake was made trying to confiscate weapons. They want to believe it will not happen again. When I see that CHP officer return a revolver and a pocketknife to Ms. Konie, drive her back to her home, help her up her steps, and apologize sincerely for his actions, and do this on public television, I may begin to feel the same. Until then, I will rest comfortable in the knowledge that hundreds of shotguns will migrate from pawn shop shelves in North Louisiana to the Big Easy and the surrounding areas over the coming months.
Until then, the CHP boys should know better. They are sworn to uphold the US Constitution (and were resworn to do the same in front of the LSP base office to operate in Louisiana). I, like every other citizen expect them to know what is written on the document they swear to uphold.
The good people of New Orleans have a problem. On one hand they have looting thugs roaming about with guns taking personal property. On the other hand they have jack booted law enforcement roaming about with guns confiscating personal property. There are many in Louisiana that no longer see the distinction that a badge once provided.
TURNING TRAGEDY INTO TRAVESTY
Imagine yourself marooned in this hellish nightmare of helplessness:
Hurricane Katrina has shredded your hometown down to bare foundations.
You have no power. No refrigeration. No A/C. No running water.
Phone lines are down, cell towers out. You can`t call anyone. No one can call you. 9-1-1 is MIA. Police are nowhere around. Bands of armed looters, thugs and rapists roam the streets with hard eyes and hungry looks.
Every outbound road and bridge is impassable. Leaving is impossible. But staying is unimaginable. Because for tonight, anyway, living has been reduced to its barest, bleakest essentials: Fresh water, some food and survival against those who would take your home, your wife, your child or your life.
When darkness falls, you huddle in the sweltering, pitch-black night--your lanterns and flashlights extinguished to save batteries and fuel, your windows and doors wide open, in hopes of a cooling whiff of fresh air. And there, you listen and look out on a civilization utterly transformed, where not a single streetlight burns, no car passes and the only sounds are the drone of a few generators, occasional shouts and gunshots in the dark.
Amid the chaos, you and a few neighbors who own guns have stepped forward--as civic-minded citizens have done since civilization was born--to protect those who can`t protect themselves or their property.
You help where you can. Where you can`t, you hold out and pray.
By the time authorities finally arrive a week later, they set about dismantling the one levee that stands between utter anarchy and you and your family- the Second Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms--by vowing to confiscate your firearms and those of your neighbors.
This is New Orleans, September 2005: Where the most fundamental human freedom is all that stands between humanity and inhumanity, savagery and safety--and where authorities have vowed to raze that lifesaving safeguard.-----
By Marshall Lewin
A Call to Arms
The situation we`re seeing in New Orleans represents a complete vindication of everything we`ve been saying in defense of the Second Amendment," said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.
"All throughout history, what you have in the aftermath of disasters like Katrina is mayhem, looting, robbing, raping and killing by the evildoers, along with a complete breakdown of government`s ability to protect people from those who would do them harm," LaPierre said. "That`s exactly what the Right to Keep and Bear Arms was intended to address. The Second Amendment is the underpinning of citizens` efforts to stay alive."
Yet according to The New York Times and other media outlets, New Orleans authorities began seizing firearms from lawful citizens precisely when they needed them the most.
"No one will be able to be armed," said New Orleans Superintendent of Police P. Edwin Compass. "Guns will be taken. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns." All firearms--lawfully owned or not-- would be seized, he said.
Ironically, Compass added, "there`s nothing more important than the preservation of human life"-- ignoring the reality that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms was the only protection citizens had against violent predators roaming New Orleans.
"When law enforcement isn`t available, Americans turn to the one right that protects all the others--the Right to Keep and Bear Arms," LaPierre said. "If authorities are denying the Second Amendment rights of lawful citizens- especially during a crisis like this--those authorities should be condemned and their actions immediately reversed."
NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox addressed the legal, tactical dimensions of any firearm confiscations in New Orleans. Louisiana state law does allow the chief law enforcement officer to "regulate possession" of firearms during declared emergencies, Cox noted, "but `regulate` doesn`t mean confiscate," he said.
"Armed gangs of from eight to 15 young men are riding around in pickup trucks, looting and raping."
"We`re exploring every legal option available to protect the rights of lawful people in New Orleans," Cox added, "and we`re immediately taking steps to overturn laws that allow that kind of oppression in every state where they exist." "This isn`t just about New Orleans, Mississippi or the Gulf Coast," added LaPierre. "It`s about all of our rights as Americans and, for that matter, as human beings, to defend ourselves from harm when no one else can or will. "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 forevermore is New Orleans."
Descent into Mayhem
With one of the highest murder rates in the United States, New Orleans has long been one of the roughest towns around. Katrina didn`t help.
Within hours of the hurricane`s landfall on the Gulf Coast, looters had begun breaking into stores and homes. But what the media were quick to characterize as a simple search for water, food and the essentials of survival quickly degenerated into rampant theft , rape, vandalism and violence.
Looters ran down a state police truck filled with food. Carjackers seized the bus from the Covenant Home nursing facility, then gangs of people drove by the nursing home, shouting, "Get out!" at residents-- who did.
The home`s executive director, Peggy Hoffman, said, "We had enough food for 10 days. Now we`ll have to equip our department heads with guns and teach them how to shoot." Louisiana State Police spokeswoman Sgt. Cathy Flinchum said criminals were filing fake emergency reports to draw police away from places where they planned to commit crimes.
One criminal with a long arrest record was charged with raping a 13-year-old mentally handicapped girl from New Orleans at an Assembly of God campground.
A police officer was murdered.
A rescue helicopter was attacked.
Police killed at least four people who had assaulted U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contractors who were crossing a bridge to try to close a gap in the 17th Street Canal.
Captain Jeff Winn of the New Orleans Police swat team said, "Armed gangs of from eight to 15 young men are riding around in pickup trucks, looting and raping." Policeman Charles Hoffacker, whose beat includes Bourbon Street, said that at times, "it was like Mogadishu."
Within a week, for whatever reason, hundreds of New Orleans police had gone awol, and two--including the department`s spokesman--had committed suicide.
According to Sgt. Stephen Villere, night-patrol commander for the French Quarter, "It felt like a year, not a week."
The "Hue and Cry" that Keeps the Peace
Faced with this total breakdown in civil order, residents throughout the Gulf Coast quickly took steps to protect property, life and limb.
In Gulfport, Miss., one of the hurricane`s hardest-hit areas, after police reported that looters had completely cleaned out a nearby strip mall, resident Billy Bova and his neighbor took down the plywood covering their windows, and painted signs: "My best friends are Smith & Wesson," and "Owner home and will kill." Standing guard one night, Bova reported seeing several young men roaming the neighborhood carrying backpacks after curfew. "We pointed our Mag-Lites at them, and they saw our shotguns and rifle, and they took off running."
In effect, in the aftermath of Katrina, in much of Louisiana and Mississippi, peaceable armed citizens like Bova and his neighbor kept the peace as well as peace of mind.
9-1-1 didn`t exist, and police who were there advised citizens that they wouldn`t be around to answer any calls for help.
This real-life experience mirrors National Science Foundation funded research in the wake of Hurricane Andrew`s devastation of South Florida in 1993. Interviewing residents, researchers found that, "those who did have firearms gained a sense of security from them, even when they were never confronted with an intruder or any other situation where the fi rearms were actually needed." "We`ve got a lot of single mothers with kids in the neighborhood," Bova said, "so we`d walk through at dusk, make sure everyone was safe, and let them know that we`d be around. with no air conditioning, everybody`s doors and windows were open. So we said, `If you have any trouble, just scream. We`ll hear you.`" In the Garden District of New Orleans, residents John Carolan and Charlie Hackett armed themselves with a pistol and shotgun to deter looters. At one point, three men appeared at Carolan`s home, showed him a machete and asked him about his generator. Carolan showed them his pistol. they didn`t pursue things further.
In the city`s French Quarter, resident Joe Campiere tried for seven days before he finally reached police through 9-1-1. the three Texas officers who arrived on horseback after that were the first Campiere had seen since the hurricane. "I tell you, I`ve been terrified," he told the Christian Science Monitor, a holstered pistol at his side.
Across the Mississippi from the French Quarter, in the historic neighborhood of Algiers Point, after a resident was carjacked on the day after Katrina struck, several neighbors worked together to protect their homes. they armed themselves and patrolled the streets by day, and at night they took turns standing guard over their part of the lawless city.
It worked: Looters left , presumably to look for easier pickings.
Resident Alexandra Boza posted a sign on her front porch reading, "Pit Bull Will Attack. We Are Here and Have Gun and Will Shoot." "I`m a part of the militia," she said, perhaps not realizing that her statement was true in the most accurate, historical sense of the Second Amendment.
Police suddenly body-slammed the elderly woman into her kitchen wall, sending dishes and a trashcan flying. Then they confiscated the gun and dragged her out of her home.
As Thomas Paine put it in 1775, "Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property Horrid mischief would ensue were (the law-abiding) deprived of the use of them." Tragically, horrid mischief still awaited the besieged residents of the Gulf.
Dispossessing Victims, Disarming the Defenseless
It was a week after Katrina struck before many New Orleans residents saw any of the thousands of federal, state and local emergency officials-- from the California Highway Patrol to the NYPD, the 82nd Airborne to the National Guard--who`d been dispatched to help them.
First those forces were focused on search and rescue. then they aimed at deterring and detaining looters.
Finally they were detailed, under Mayor Ray Nagin`s order, to evacuate the Big Easy--willingly or not.
Then, 11 days after Katrina hit, local police began confiscating firearms from civilians in preparation for a forced evacuation of the last holdouts.
"We are going to take all the weapons," Deputy Police Chief Warren Riley told the Associated Press.
But many residents didn`t want to leave, for fear of losing their pets, their possessions or their homes.
Fox News cameras caught one violent confiscation on tape. Police entered the residence of an elderly woman, Patricia Konie, demanding evacuation. "I don`t want you in here, period," she said, pointing out her street was dry, she had adequate food and water, and if looters came, she had a gun.
When the police asked to see her gun, she showed them a small revolver, which she carefully held safely in her palm--no hand on the grip or finger on the trigger.
Police suddenly body-slammed the elderly woman into her kitchen wall, sending dishes and a trashcan flying.
Then they confiscated the gun and dragged her out of her home, dazed and staggering, for processing.
New Orleans attorney Ashton O`Dwyer, whose house was intact and who had plenty of food and water, also resisted, as shown in a CNN.com segment. "Let them be warned," he said. "they try to come to my house, they try to evict me, they try to take my guns, there will be gunfire." Yet while authorities sought to disarm ordinary citizens in New Orleans, they had no plans to disarm private security guards hired to protect businesses, the wealthy and connected. Which means that, as is so often the case throughout history, freedom and safety are reserved for the well-to-do- while ordinary citizens most in need of protection are left with little more than their prayers and pleas for mercy.
Bova, the Gulfport resident quoted earlier, brought the situation into the starkest focus. When I told him of New Orleans` policy of disarming honest citizens, he was speechless at first, for he hadn`t heard the news. then he grew livid.
"These are people who have lost everything," he said. "their kids, their homes, their life savings, all their possessions. All that`s left is that they`re still alive. You mean to tell me, after losing all that, politicians want to take away their guns--the one thing that can keep them alive? "Who do they think they are?" he shouted. "these people ought to be indicted and put in jail!" "For generations, anti-gun politicians have claimed that honest citizens don`t need firearms because the police or the government will always be there to protect you," said NRA`s LaPierre. "that`s nonsense, it`s naive, it has never played out that way in history, and New Orleans proves it once and for all.
"Authorities are trying to do what the looters and criminals could not: disarm the law-abiding citizens of New Orleans trying to protect their homes and families," he said.
"The NRA will not stand idly by while guns are confiscated from law-abiding people who`re trying to defend themselves." NRA-ILA chief Cox agreed.
"We`re going to do what it takes to ensure this never happens again," Cox said. "First, we`re going to go into every state that has laws allowing authorities to confiscate firearms from lawful people during a state of emergency, and we`re going to change those laws. Second, we`re going to get legislation on Capitol Hill to amend the federal disaster laws, so that governments never have the authority to confiscate firearms from peaceable citizens--whether under a state of emergency or not.
And third, we`re going to go to court to defend the Second Amendment rights of people whose firearms have been confiscated, and we`re going to get those firearms back," Cox said. "The NRA will not allow this travesty to stand."
In preparation for further lawsuits over gun confiscations the NRA and SAF are looking for people who actually had guns confiscated. If you have personally had a gun confiscated in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina hit, please call (888) 414-6333. Be prepared to leave only your name and immediate contact information so we can get back to you. Once again, they are seeking contact information from actual victims of gun confiscation in Louisiana only.
Contact SAF via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be ready to provide them with your full name, address, current working telephone number and the date and time of the firearm(s) seizure, as well as any other pertinent information.