In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the citizens of New Orleans lost their right to defend themselves from thugs and looters when law enforcement systematically confiscated legally owed firearms from those who were trying to protect themselves, their families and their property. To ensure this never happens again, the passage of S. 2599/H.R. 5013, the “Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006,” is a top NRA-ILA legislative priority.
On July 25, 2006, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 322 to 99 to pass H.R. 5013 (introduced by Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-LA), to guarantee that the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans will never again be violated during a time of emergency. Companion legislation, S. 2599 by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), is now under consideration in the U.S. Senate.
S. 2599 specifically prohibits the confiscation of lawfully possessed firearms by officials during emergencies. It also forbids federal officers or employees from requiring the registration of firearms, prohibiting the lawful carrying of firearms or banning the possession of lawful firearms. These prohibitions apply to all federal officers, employees or any others who receive federal funds and specifically include the uniformed services.
The legislation also expressly allows citizens to bring legal action--similar to a traditional civil rights suit--against any government agent or employee who violates this act. The bill also allows for suit to be brought to force the return of any illegally confiscated firearm. Finally, S.2599/H.R. 5013 provides for payment of attorney’s fees for victims who are forced to use the courts to restore their rights and property.
The strong bipartisan vote in favor of H.R. 5013 demonstrates the broad support for this legislation. Law enforcement must never again be allowed to disarm law-abiding people during a time of emergency when they are most vulnerable to criminal attack and when authorities are least able to come to the aid of citizens.On July 13, 2006, 84 Senators voted in favor of an amendment to the Homeland Security appropriations bill (H.R. 5441) to prohibit the use of any federal funds to confiscate lawfully owned or possessed firearms. This was an important step; however, it applies the restriction only to funding for the 2007 fiscal year. Passage of S. 2599/H.R. 5013 will make the prohibition of government confiscation of firearms during times of emergencies permanent and provides badly needed remedies for victims of confiscation should it ever happen in violation of the law.