This is old news for the most part, but the city of New Orleans has finally admitted they seized guns in response to a motion for contempt of court in the NRA/SAF lawsuit.
I got the news from The Smallest Minority. And by now, it's almost a month old. Folks, I apologize for being so far behind the curve, but hopefully I'll be in a position to catch up soon.
Of Arms And The Law has details on how to claim your firearms, if yours were seized during Katrina's aftermath.
Frustrated by the continued failure of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Superintendent Warren Riley to comply with a federal injunction issued last September to halt illegal gun confiscations following Hurricane Katrina and return all seized firearms to their owners, the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association have filed a motion in federal court to have both Nagin and Riley held in contempt.The story pretty much says it all. The City of New Orleans is pretending that the NRA and SAF lawsuits concerning gun seizures will simply go away if they hide their head in the sand long enough and stonewall by refusing to admit that any firearms were seized. What they appear to have forgotten is that we have video of the policy announcement and at least two seizures. This is not going to go away.
Yes, P Edwin Compass, police chief of the City of New Orleans, has resigned. Was it the widespread desertion and looting by police officers? Or was it his decision to order the illegal confiscation of lawfully-owned firearms?
The media mentions the former prominently, while ignoring the latter. But Compass did not resign until shortly after the NRA and the SAF received an injunction prohibiting further firearm confiscations -- a consent decree in which Mayor Nagin hung Compass out to dry, refusing to admit to any delegation of authority or give any official sanction to disarmament orders.
I know what I think.
Hat tip to SayUncle, who got it from Jay.
... from Of Arms and the Law. The plaintiff in that case had his arms seized while he was in his boat. That is to say, he was not in his home. That changes the legal situation; it shifts from possession of arms on private property to the legality of "open carry" of firearms, at least for this plaintiff. That makes it harder, since regulations on the carry of firearms outside private property are on firmer precedential ground than confiscation of firearms from the home. Let's get some plaintiffs in this case that had their guns seized from their homes. That little old lady who got tackled by California's finest should do.
But at the moment, the question seems to have become: Can the police legally prohibit carrying firearms openly under the 2nd Amendment (remember, freedom to keep and bear arms)? Under the Louisiana Constitution?
I suspect we're about to find out.
Someone who wants to research the law in Louisiana on this would get a lot of links...
... and it doesn't quite add up. As far as I can tell, it amounts to a claim that the confiscation never happened and was not official policy. They are on videotape about this ("Only the police can have guns"). We have at least one report (via the Geek with a .45, only 2 degrees from the eyewitness) of National Guard units confiscating firearms. We have a video of what are, apparantly, California Highway Patrol officers tackling an old woman to take her revolver, and leaving gun owners in handcuffs while their weapons were confiscated ("They were jealous because ours were bigger than theirs.").
I expect that the city will now engage in a massive coverup, and simultaneously try to argue that they only confiscated guns from people who were somehow not law-abiding; they'll probably claim any confiscations were from people who threatened the police. Remember that this is all after-the-fact whitewashing. We have them on tape.
UPDATE: We still don't know exactly what happened in that New Orleans courtroom. But thanks to this interview with Alan Gottlieb of the 2nd Amendment Foundation, recorded just before the injunction was issued, we can start to guess. In it, Alan says that the judge is waiting for one thing: he wanted to see the video clip himself. So we can presume that the judge saw the denials from the Nagin and Compass and wanted to see evidence that they were lying to him. Reasonable, and since he later issued the injunction, it appears he was satisfied.
In order to figure out what's going on, it's useful to summarize and paraphrase the confusing statements in the injunction:
I will start by taking a moment to point out that the ABC news video does NOT name the police officer making the statement. It has been attributed to Compass in print but not in the video itself. Similarly, it's risky to take the claims of Nagin and Compass in court at face value; their lawyers may well want to concede nothing at all at this early stage, especially if they don't see any way to defend their actions legally. So with that in mind, here's what I deduce from the injunction:
First, Nagin is hanging Compass out to dry. Nagin claims he did not delegate any authority and Compass affirms that. Nagin will blame his underlings, deny having anything to do with it, and get away with it unless there's something written down or on tape with his name attached.
Second, Compass acknowledges that he was not delegated any authority to order confiscations from the Mayor, and that any statements attributed to him to that effect do not represent the policy of Nagin or the City of New Orleans.
Third, Nagin and Compass deny that any seizures took place. This should probably be read to mean that they do not admit to knowing any seizures took place. If they can't sustain that denial they can claim that they thought their seizures were lawful and still be within the bounds of this statement. If they can't sustain that they may be able to claim that out-of-state officers and National Guard troops conducted the seizures without orders. They may be preparing to claim that people disobeying mandatory evacuation orders are not law-abiding citizens. They may also be preparing to pass the buck downwards.
Fourth, Nagin and Compass deny that seizing firearms from law-abiding citizens is the policy of the City of New Orleans. The only way this makes any sense at all when combined with the video we have is if the video is not Compass talking, or if the context of the video has a lot more information than we're seeing. I can't rule out either possibility, although the man in the video does look like Compass (compare with other images of Compass).
Overall, though, it's clear that Nagin doesn't want to defend the confiscations and is hanging his subordinate out to dry (whether deserved or not). Compass may be sincerely denying any knowledge, or more likely, his lawyers are conceding nothing as part of their defense strategy. Either way, he's not saying that no seizures took place; he's saying that no illegal seizures took place.
This is not a real denial that confiscations took place; it's ass-covering.
UPDATE: I was able to obtain the full court order from Clayton Cramer. There are two interesting points from the material he did not quote. First, there is a simple declaration that the injunction does not contravene any presently-declared state of emergency within the state. This might have the effect of rendering it powerless, if there is in fact a (purportedly) legal power to confiscate firearms during a state of emergency. Second, and potentially much more serious, the order requires the defendents to return confiscated firearms upon the presentation of identification and a receipt.
Although the situation is obviously still very chaotic, in all the reports I have read or seen, only one mentioned receipts. That report indicated that receipts were not being given.
I can't imagine that the NRA/SAF lawyers would have overlooked that. Either their plaintiff has a receipt, or the judge wasn't listening to the part about not giving out receipts.
Following this one is going to be interesting.
UPDATE: The plot thickens. This Houston Chronicle story quotes the NRA's Wayne LaPierre as saying "there were no receipts given."
UPDATE: According to Gun Law News the plaintiff already has his guns back. No word on everyone else who wasn't specifically named in the NRA/SAF lawsuit.
Gun Owners of America have a page up with information on the confiscation. They also say that they are aware of at least one New Orleans resident whose firearms were confiscated, who plans to sue, and they intend to support his case or cases like it. For now, they want our help to rattle cages on Capitol Hill, in support of their model legislation, which would prevent any federal government funds from being used to confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens, or force citizens out of their homes if they are not in "imminent danger".
So let's make some noise.
Confiscations continuing in New Orleans?
The Geek with a .45 is getting reports that confiscations in New Orleans are continuing. Like him, I invite anyone with facts to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org; I will protect your anonymity to the best of my ability.
Now, back to watching Hurricane Rita and wondering whether I'm going to find myself in Oz next week.
Injunction issued in New Orleans gun confiscation case...
According to an email alert, the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation have joined forces to file a lawsuit and obtain an injunction prohibiting the confiscation of firearms from law-abiding citizens in New Orleans. Here's the scoop:
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana this afternoon issued a temporary restraining order on behalf of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and National Rifle Association (NRA), bringing an end to firearm seizures from citizens living in and around New Orleans.Obviously, I'll be following this case as closely as I can once I can find a way to obtain related documents. Given the mess that Louisiana is in at the moment, that may take a while. This promises to be a very interesting case, however.
UPDATE: Here's a press release from the NRA.
UPDATE: You may want to donate to the Second Amendment Foundation to help their efforts on this case.
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