COLUMN: The right to bear arms: only for some?

Leslie Arntz

When disaster strikes, people are often left to fend for themselves. Part of survival is protecting yourself, your family and what is left of your property. But P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of the New Orleans police, made a decision to take that away. On Sept. 8, in preparation for forced evacuation, police began confiscating firearms, including legally registered weapons, from civilians.

Many do not want to leave. The citizens of neighborhoods that were undamaged by Katrina and the subsequent flooding fear that their homes and businesses will be looted and destroyed. Their concern is not unfounded.

All too often, federal, state and local law enforcers were given the choice between rescuing survivors and apprehending looters. The right choice left criminals roaming free and other citizens to defend themselves.

Law-abiding citizens are forced to give up their weapons and their ability to protect their property and families. Hurricanes do not give the government the right to override constitutional rights.

Application of the Second Amendment is at its finest during states of upheaval and lawlessness as witnessed in the aftermath of Katrina. If citizens are not allowed to bear their arms now, then when? Are they only allowed to defend themselves from the paper men at firing ranges? If even that?

What is truly disappointing is that police seem to be selective in their confiscation. Many businesses and (wealthy) individuals have hired private security guards to protect their property – private security guards who openly carry M-16s.

These guards are citizens who received firearm training similar to the training required of concealed weapon permit holders. Compass is well aware of the presence of these hired gunmen, but said the police had no intention of asking them to hand over their assault rifles. The common man is not allowed to remain and protect his meager possessions, but the rich can bring in someone else to protect their stuff for them.

This is a solid case of class consciousness and subsequent discrimination. Officials turn a blind eye to the inequality of the situation and strip citizens of constitutional rights. Louisiana does have a law allowing for the regulation of possession of firearms in times of declared emergency. Confiscation is not a synonym of regulation in the thesaurus, though.

It’s the people in the poorer areas who have much more to lose, and now they have lost their means of protection.

More guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens equates to less crime. Shots do not even have to be fired for a gun to be effective. A gun is a weapon of intimidation. Simply brandishing the weapon is often more than enough to deter a criminal. Instances of this have already been documented in New Orleans.

If the government is so ready to strip citizens of their firearms during a natural disaster, what could happen during a social disaster? The Second Amendment was designed for this type of situation.

The government cannot be everywhere at once, so it is left to people to defend themselves, their families and their property. Give back the means necessary to do so.

The common man does not have the monetary accumulation required to hire someone to tote a gun for him, but each person has the right to tote his own.

Leslie Arntz is a gun owner and a point/counterpoint columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].