Congressional votes on gun seizures don't change need for HB508
By Chad D. Baus
On Tuesday, the United States House of Representatives voted 402-23 for H.R. 5013, legislation that bars federal officials or local law enforcement agents that get federal money from confiscating legally owned firearms during a natural disaster.
A separate bill preventing the use of federal funds for the confiscation of lawfully possessed firearms during an emergency or major disaster passed the United States Senate with a final vote margin of 84-16 earlier this month.
The House action received coverage today in the New Orleans Picayune:
- The bill's sponsor, Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner, said he wants to avoid a repeat of occurrences during Hurricane Katrina when he said he heard dozens of reports about guns being taken from law-abiding citizens.
These citizens, Jindal told his House colleagues, were left in mostly abandoned neighborhoods in New Orleans without phones or the ability to summon police amid looting and general lawlessness. "They were left defenseless," he said.
Also from the Associated Press:
- The Fraternal Order of Police endorsed the measure. In a letter to Jindal, National President Chuck Canterbury said that law enforcement officials concentrate on search and rescue during major disasters and that breakdowns in communications and transportation can lengthen police response times to calls.
"A law-abiding citizen who possesses a firearm lawfully represents no danger to law enforcement officers or any other first responder," Canterbury wrote.
The National Rifle Association also supported the bill and has been asking police chiefs and mayors to pledge that they will not forcibly disarm law-abiding citizens.
Assuming Congress sends a bill to President Bush, this should eliminate the need for Rep. Ron Hood's Ohio House Bill 508, right? WRONG.
H.R. 5013 an outright ban on the confiscation of firearms, passed the more gun-friendly House of Representatives. But even should this version of the bill become law, there is a significant flaw. The law simply has no teeth when it comes to enforcement - victims of a violation of this law are only able to sue the perpetrator in order to seek a remedy for their civil rights being so violated.
The Senate's version so-called "fix" for this problem is much less stringent than even the House's toothless language. Instead of banning these confiscations, the Senate legislation would simply disallow the use of Federal funds when such confiscations occur.
No matter what version of this legislation eventually is signed into law by the President, it will almost certainly not be enough to adequately protect Ohioans from a major violation of their civil rights, or of significant cost in attempting to seek a remedy, should they ever be so victimized by a governmental entity.
Ohio HB 508, introduced by Representative Ron Hood, is designed to criminalize the confiscation of legally owned firearms by law enforcement during a state of emergency. The key part of Hood's bill is in Sec. 5502.99 (E):
- (E) Whoever violates section 5502.371 of the Revised Code is guilty of a felony of the fifth degree and shall be fined not less than five thousand dollars or imprisoned for not less than six months or both.
Asked about his bill, Hood said, "My bill would make it a felony for law enforcement officials, including the Feds, to confiscate lawfully owned and lawfully carried firearms from Ohioans during a state of emergency."
Jail is the only just reward for those who violate our civil rights. Please ask your elected officials in the Republican-led Ohio House and Senate to put HB508 on a fast-track when they return to session.