Same old-Same old in New Orleans
Via Bob Dowlut:
The NY Times reports:
"NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 8 - Waters were receding across this flood-beaten city today as police officers began confiscating weapons, including legally registered weapons, 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 of any kind, 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."
1. The response to chaos is to disarm the legit gun owners who want to protect themselves;
2. But of course the hired guns for the wealthy can pack full-auto guns anytime -- the wealthy and their guardians are different;
3. Not that anyone would worry about the Louisiana Bill of Rights: "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." Art. I, § 11. The right takes on added meaning where people have been subjected to looting, rape, and anarchy, which the local government did little to stop (and in fact some police were photographed taking part in the looting).
4 Or, even if there were no constitutional provision, where a local Superintendant of Police can find the power to disarm by fiat, in the absense of any statute allowing it.
[UPDATE: It's been pointed out that Louisiana law (14 La. Rev. Statutes 329.6) allows a Superintendant, when the governor has declared an emergency, to issue orders "Regulating and controlling the possession, storage, display, sale, transport and use of firearms, other dangerous weapons and ammunition..." So he does have the statutory authority. Whether the statute is unconstitutional as applied remains as an issue.]
[FURTHER UPDATE: Dave Kopel presents some strong arguments that the order does violate statute: such an order has to be published in the newspaper and filed with several offices, none of which has apparently been done, and the use of "prohibiting" in other sections of the law and "regulating and controlling" here suggests that something less than total prohibition is authorized.
Orin Kerr differs with Dave, essentially arguing (1) while the statute says the order must be published and filed, it does not say that this is a precondition to its being effective and (2) the statutory power to "control" carrying of firearms is broad enough to cover the order, which doesn't bar ownership of guns but only their carrying.]