That was the reaction from Erich Pratt, Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America, after learning that the city of New Orleans had begun confiscating legally-owned firearms from New Orleans' residents.
"By what authority can the mayor order these confiscations?" Pratt said. "You can't legitimately suspend the God-given rights of American citizens who have committed no crimes.
"These confiscations will not make the people of New Orleans any safer. Privately owned firearms were the only thing which prevented good people from becoming victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when few policemen were to be found anywhere in the city.
"There have been many stories of self-defense, where stranded survivors were able to use firearms to protect what little they had, against the criminal thugs who had been released from the prisons. To take away their firearms now is simply adding 'insult to injury.'
"Unfortunately, we have yet to learn the lessons from previous dark episodes in our recent history," Pratt said. "We need to remember those lessons, such as the riots of Los Angeles more than a decade ago."
For several days in 1992, Los Angeles was in complete turmoil as stores were looted and burned. Motorists were dragged from their cars and beaten. As in New Orleans, police in L.A. were very slow in responding to the crisis. Many Guardsmen, after being mobilized to the affected areas, sat by and watched the violence because their rifles were low on ammunition.
"But not everybody in Los Angeles suffered," Pratt said. "In some of the hot spots, Korean merchants were able to successfully protect their stores with semi-automatic firearms. In areas where armed citizens banded together for self-protection, their businesses were spared while others -- which were left unprotected -- burned to the ground."
Interestingly, press reports in the aftermath of the riots described how life-long gun control supporters were running to gun stores to buy an item they never thought they would need -- a gun. Tragically, they were surprised (and outraged!) to learn there was a 15-day waiting period upon firearms.
"Will we never learn?" Pratt said. "It is a fact that firearms save millions of lives every year. So if Mayor Ray Nagin really wanted to help the decent citizens of New Orleans, he would be issuing them firearms instead of taking them away. Nagin's actions will put people in further jeopardy -- and if one citizen dies in New Orleans because he was deprived of the ability to defend himself or his family, there will be blood on the Mayor's hands."
GOA is already looking to draft legislation at both the state and federal level to preclude authorities from imposing ANY firearms restrictions during emergency response activities. Please stay tuned for further updates.