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Constitutions and Emergencies:

The New York Times reports:

Waters were receding across this flood-beaten city today as police officers began confiscating weapons, including legally registered firearms, from civilians in preparation for a mass forced evacuation of the residents still living here.

No civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to carry pistols, shotguns, or other firearms, said P. Edwin Compass, the superintendent of police. "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.

But that order apparently does not apply to the hundreds of security guards whom businesses and some wealthy individuals have hired to protect their property. The guards, who are civilians working for private security firms like Blackwater, are openly carrying M-16's and other assault rifles. Mr. Compass said he was aware of the private guards, but that the police had no plans to make them give up their weapons.

Note, though, that the Louisiana Constitution, art. I, sec. 11 (enacted 1974), provides that

The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on the person.

Is there some implicit emergency exception to the right to bear arms here? On the other hand, doesn't the emergency make the right especially valuable to the rightsholders? Should it matter that the government seems willing to let "businesses and some wealthy individuals" hire to people use arms "to protect their property," but isn't willing to let less wealthy individuals use themselves and their friends and relatives to protect their property (and their bodies and their lives)?

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