Rehberg-Sponsored Bill Protecting Gun Ownership Overwhelmingly Passes House
Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, sponsored legislation that would protect the Second Amendment rights of responsible gun owners in the wake of certain national emergencies. The bipartisan Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006, which passed the House today, was introduced after federal and state authorities confiscated firearms from responsible citizens, during the days after Hurricane Katrina, despite the fact they had committed no crimes.
"I was alarmed when I saw the news reports of law abiding citizens having their guns taken away in New Orleans," said Rehberg. "While criminals were looting and committing acts of violence, many responsible gun owners had no way of defending themselves because their guns had been taken away. The lesson here is that lawful citizens need to be able to exercise their Second Amendment right during a national emergency, not have that right infringed upon."
Thirty three states have "emergency powers" laws that give the government permission to suspend or limit gun sales, and to prohibit or restrict citizens from transporting or carrying firearms. In some states, authorities can seize guns outright from citizens who have committed no crime. In many instances in New Orleans, the means by which the confiscation of guns was carried out was unlawful and violated reasonable searches and seizures procedures.
"This really is a common-sense bill," added Rehberg. "The last thing law enforcement needs to be doing in the wake of a national disaster is making law abiding citizens vulnerable. Unfortunately, that's what happened in New Orleans. Firearms weren't taken from the looters and criminals. They were taken from decent folks. That surely isn't the intent of the Second Amendment."
"This is a good step in the right direction, and we're pleased Congress is concerned and considering this," commented Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association. "It would certainly be counterproductive in Montana for federal officials to confiscate, or try to confiscate, privately-held firearms during a declared emergency."