New Orleans Guns Should Be Returned Today:

The New Orleans Police Department home invasion and gun confiscation program began last Thursday. According to Louisiana law, emergency orders, such as those "regulating and controlling" firearms, automatically expire after five days. So today, the sixth day after the confiscations began, the legal authority for the confiscations has expired. Legally speaking, victims of the confiscation ought to be able to retrieve their firearms today.

But of course the above paragraph, describing the law in Louisiana, has nothing to do with what is actually occurring. As detailed in previous postings on this weblog, the lawless Police Superintendent Eddie Compass never created, in any form, a public order to authorize the gun confiscation. Nor are there any reports that the "order" (if it ever existed) has been renewed for another five-day period, as the law allows.

Let us hypothetically assume that the confisications were legal in the first place (under theory that confiscations are a form of "controlling" guns, which is allowed, but do not constitute "prohibiting" guns, which is not allowed). And let us further assume that the Superintendent's remark to a reporter constitutes creation of a lawful order (even though none of the statutory procedures for creating a lawful order were followed). Even then, the absence of a renewal order today means that the gun confiscations must cease, and that victims of the confiscation have every legal right to reclaim their property.

Shelby (mail):
By your hypothetical, a casual statement to a reporter by a police official that they are continuing to confiscate guns, could be treated as a re-issuance of the order (or if you prefer, issuing a new but identical order) and start the clock ticking again.
9.13.2005 4:36pm
gab (mail):
Dozens to hundreds of dead. Billions in damages. Lives uprooted, refugees displaced, perhaps permanently. And we're focusing on gun confiscation? I realize Dave Kopel believes individuals have a right to gun ownership, and he has the right to write about whatever he wants, but really, is this a big issue right now?
9.13.2005 4:47pm
Shelby (mail):
is this a big issue right now?

Only because the government is making it one. Your points illustrate what officials should be focusing on; unfortunately, they've decided violating state and federal rights is more important. Should we not call them on that?
9.13.2005 4:52pm
DaveIndy1L (mail):
If you were sitting in your home, and some random looter comes in to attempt to kill you or your family, it would be quite a big issue, wouldn't it?

So every time that something bigger is happening, our constitutional rights take a backseat?
9.13.2005 4:54pm
Gab, I think you have something there. Suppose the Bush Adminstration ordered mandatory church attendence and services conducted the public schools to pray for the victims and for a speedy recovery. You'd be the first one to say that we have bigger things to worry about, wouldn't you?
9.13.2005 5:10pm
Last night on the news it was reported that Texans and transplanted Louisianans are stocking up on guns. The gun store interviewee said they were working sixteen hour days just to keep up.
9.13.2005 5:28pm
Scipio (mail) (www):
Thank god gab is here to keep us focused.

Clearly, when I was sitting in the dark with a loaded rifle the second night after the hurricane when someone tried to jimmy my front door, there were bigger things to worry about.

Because, you see, the Hattiesburg Police Department was there to protect me. Amazingly only about five hours after the Mayor of Hattiesburg went on Mississippi Public Broadcasting radio demanding more law enforcement in Hattiesburg, a city of 45,000 people whose population had basically doubled overnight, because the major evacuation routes north from the gulf coast all run through it (except I-55).

I'm just spitballing here, but perhaps I was better off with a loaded 30-30 in my lap than without. We'll never know, though, because no Hattiesburg cop was suicidal enough to demand that I hand over my rights to them.
9.13.2005 5:32pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
You're still hung up over the statute. Unless the statute says somewhere that it is an exclusive method for grabbing guns/responding to emergencies, I don't think the statute has anything to do with the situation, and you are chasing wild geese/stawpersons. I certainly agree gun grabbing is a major problem well worth our focus. The storm wasn't preventable. The police riot following the storm was.
Myabe we should look at other statutes - does LA have any state equivalent to 1983? Or, Bivens-style, does one just sue under the state constitution? Any provisions in caselaw or statute for legal fees, removal of officers committing malfeasance, damages?
9.13.2005 5:40pm
a (mail):
9.13.2005 5:51pm
Rotsa ruck. If you haven't figured it out by now, they don't need no stinkin' law.
9.13.2005 5:55pm
TC (mail):
Are people still being forcibly removed from their homes? Do NO residents have the option to remain in their homes?

If they don't -- and people really are being forcibly removed -- what is the legal basis for that? To me, that's a more pressing issue than the confiscation of guns.
9.13.2005 6:00pm
Scipio (mail) (www):

Both are unlawful seizures under the 4th Amendment, anyway.
9.13.2005 6:29pm
Some Jarhead:
It's a state run by democrats. What makes you think they care about anybody's rights?
9.13.2005 7:07pm
Shelby (mail):
Maybe jarheads care about other peoples' rights; I'd like to think so. I have not seen evidence to make me think Republicans care any more than Democrats, though.
9.13.2005 7:23pm
therut (mail):
Well I've seen legal scholars call the 2nd amendment--EMBARESSING,VANISHING,TERRIFYING maybe this is an example of the DROWNED 2nd amendment.
9.13.2005 8:59pm
Lets Calm Down (mail):
Kopel's post refers to "victims" and "confiscations" as if there is some widespread problem. Does anybody have any actual evidence that police confiscated guns from private homes in any significant numbers? (And before somebody says "even one confiscation is significant," I will note that there is a big difference between a government dealing with a chaotic situation making a few isolated questionable decisions and doing so systematically.) I have not seen any evidence -- beyond hyperbole on this blog -- that "confiscations" from homes (as opposed to from people carrying in public) occurred with any frequency. I am not even sure that there were many confiscations from people carrying guns in public. The whole issue seems overblown.

A much more interesting question would be the following: do you think that the convention center would have been safer if (1) everybody had a gun, (2) nobody had a gun, or (3) only the Police had guns (and were deployed in sufficient quantity to be useful)?
9.13.2005 11:33pm
htom (mail):
Well, it was an announced policy, not isolated questionable decisions, and so I will be the first to proclaim that one should be sufficient to be a problem.

Safer if (1), in that case (2) leaves those unable to withstand attacks by the organized muscular thugs unaided because (3) assumes a police force not in evidence.
9.14.2005 1:29am
Kirk H Parker (mail):
A much more interesting question would be the following: do you think that the convention center would have been safer if (1) everybody had a gun, (2) nobody had a gun, or (3) only the Police had guns (and were deployed in sufficient quantity to be useful)?

Your question could use a few more alternatives. Most notably, (4) any Concealed Handgun Permit holder was allowed to bring in a gun.

My own personal conjecture is that in more-to-less safe order would be (4), (1), (3), and (2), though considerations of constitutional questions and basic morality would make it hard for me to insist on (4) over (1) if I were the one having to disarm the (presumably) law-abiding non-permit holder.
9.14.2005 1:35am
james (mail):
Lets Calm Down - By your implied reasoning, prison should be the safest place because only the guards have guns.
9.14.2005 2:31pm
M. Labe:
These have gone out to my Senators, my Congressman, the President and the Attorney General (his has slightly different wording as he *is* in charge of the DOJ)

Dear Senator

I was shocked to read news articles reporting that the superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department issued an order, ostensibly at the direction of the mayor of the City of New Orleans, to confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens who were peacefully residing in their own homes.

It was even more shocking to see television and cable channel footage of what appeared to be state, local and federal law enforcement officials and some units of the National Guard carrying out this order.

I believe that both the issuance of this blatantly illegal order and the actions taken to carry it out constituted violations of 18 USC 241 "Conspiracy against rights" and 18 USC 242 "Deprivation of rights under color of law". It is also possible that other laws of which I am unaware were violated by these actions.

I am requesting your assistance in persuading the United States Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into this matter to determine if, as I believe, the rights of citizens were unlawfully violated by these actions, and, if such a determination is made, to prosecute all involved to the fullest extent of the law.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

9.15.2005 12:49pm