Do you remember when you first saw the desperate images of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, which shocked the entire world? Do you recall the wrenching sense of sympathy as you watched helpless people of all races, ages and incomes trapped amidst the destruction, literally clawing and scratching for their lives, families, pets and homes?
Now imagine yourself trapped in that same apocalyptic helplessness, where calling 911 brings nothing but a ringtone. Imagine the ominous silence hanging in the dead air, with empty streets and nobody to hear your cries for help. Imagine no water, no power, no phone and no police protection. Imagine that you, your family, your home, your pets and your dwindling supplies are at the mercy of roaming thugs.
All you can do is hide in your festering attic or basement, breathe softly, remain silent and pray that you, your family, and your home don't attract the random attention of plundering looters, rapists and violent criminals. You have no idea when or if normalcy or law enforcement authorities will return.
To make matters worse, you now have no firearm to protect yourself, your family or your lifelong possessions. Unfortunately for you, government bureaucrats have ordered law enforcement to go door-to-door and confiscate all of your firearms at gunpoint, leaving you completely helpless.
Think that this can't happen? Think again – it already has.
This exact scenario unfolded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, unbeknownst to most people across the country. New Orleans and other government officials literally ordered reluctant law enforcement officers to confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens at gunpoint.
In other words, at the very moment when Second Amendment rights mattered most, when innocent civilians needed firearms for self-protection, government forcibly confiscated them.
This wasn't some foreign tyranny, nor was it some soft socialist European state. It was within the United States of America, where the Constitution explicitly states that "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."
For years, gun control activists have condescendingly assured us that "government is not going to knock on doors and take people's guns." But Hurricane Katrina proves otherwise, and illustrates what gun-rights advocates have predicted: that this is precisely what they'll do. As New Orleans Police Superintendent P. Edwin Compass baldly asserted, "no one will be able to be armed. Guns will be taken. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns."
Some 33 states currently possess such "emergency powers" laws that limit the possession, transportation and sale of desperately-needed firearms during times of disaster or unrest. Some states even permit authorities to seize firearms from law-abiding citizens, who are rendered defenseless against the very disorder that led to the seizure.
Unfortunately, not a single one of us is immune from this type of scenario, whether you live in an area subject to hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, tsunamis, gas shortages, terrorism, riots, floods, blizzards or crippling disease pandemics.
If so, recall the 1992 Los Angeles riots. While entire neighborhoods burned and rampaging reprobates wantonly murdered people and destroyed property, authorities were utterly unable or unwilling to protect law-abiding citizens. Firefighters and police officers refused to enter certain areas to save lives, and rioters controlled large swaths of the city.
Fortunately, some people were prepared to defend themselves. You may recall the television images as Korean-American store owners, specifically targeted by racist rioters, protected their lives and worldly possessions by banding together, arming themselves, and standing atop their rooftops to repel approaching rioters. Police were nowhere to be found – law-abiding citizens were completely on their own. It takes very little imagination to realize what would have happened if authorities had confiscated their firearms, as they did in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Efforts are underway, however, to protect citizens' Second Amendment right to protect themselves, their families and their livelihoods. The National Rifle Association has initiated a campaign calling upon every mayor and police chief in America to sign the following pledge to never forcibly disarm law-abiding citizens:
"A lawful person's right to keep a gun for self-defense shouldn't be revoked due to storm tracks, disease epidemics, tornado paths, flood levels, wildfires, Richter scales, street riots, terrorist events or the impulse of local bureaucrats. We're asking every mayor and police chief to sign this pledge: 'I will never forcibly disarm the law-abiding citizens of my city."
This is a simple pledge to sign, and citizens across America can determine their city officials' stand on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Additionally, pending legislation in several states and within Congress would make it a crime for bureaucrats to endanger law-abiding citizens by forcibly disarming them. At the federal level, H.R. 5013, the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006, and S. 2599 would prevent local authorities from confiscating lawfully-owned firearms during disasters, and guarantee legal recourse for victims of illegal seizures.
No matter where you live, disaster can strike you. Every one of us lives in an area subject to disaster, whether man-made or natural. When such disasters cripple government's fundamental ability to protect its citizens, people must protect themselves. Any government that undermines such self-protection is unworthy of our Constitution.
Accordingly, Americans everywhere must demand that their local, state and federal officials sign the NRA's pledge, and pass the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006.
Your life may someday depend upon it.August 3, 2006