The Katrina Effect: Hood introduces HB508

By Gerard Valentino

(This commentary has also been published at

Video and anecdotal evidence of law enforcement confiscating legally owned firearms during the Katrina disaster caused widespread outrage among civil libertarians. Yet, criminals who refused to turn in their guns continued to rob, rape, and pillage at will.

The same law enforcement officers that disarmed the citizenry then failed to adequately protect them. Never before had the American public been faced with such a clear cut example of how disarming the law-abiding leaves the criminal element free to attack without fear.

While many believe confiscating guns makes law enforcement and citizens safer during times of strife Katrina showed us exactly the opposite is true. The results echoed what pro-gun advocates have said always happens when law-abiding citizens are denied the most effective means of self-defense.

Law enforcement's inability to access many areas of New Orleans further aggravated the situation since many of the roving criminals knew they did not have to fear being arrested. Not only were the police unable to protect the citizen's and their property in some cases inmates were released because the prisons lacked adequate facilities to protect them during the hurricane.

For many of the poor unable to flee Katrina's wrath their only means of defense during the ensuing lawlessness was their personal firearm.

As more and more citizens had their guns confiscated they were left to fend for themselves in the face of chaos. A sad commentary on how society chooses to punish the law-abiding for the sins of criminals.

Click on the "Read More" link below to read Representative Hood's bill.

Now, as law makers continue to reflect on the mistakes made during the Katrina disaster, new laws that make it a crime for law enforcement to confiscate guns during a state of emergency are being debated across the nation.

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 phrase in the bill is "legally owned." There is no prohibition in the bill for the confiscation of illegal guns or guns used in the commission of a crime.

Asked about his bill, Hood said, "New Hampshire recently introduced a piece of legislation that every state should seriously consider for the protection of our 2nd and 10th Amendment rights. My bill, like New Hampshire's, 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."

It is a shame that such a law is required to protect the civil rights citizens who are only trying to defend their life, family and property. Supporting such a bill is the obligation of anyone concerned with protecting private property and civil rights.

Confiscating legally owned firearms during a state of emergency, when they are needed the most, contradicts the very rule of law that binds American society. Supporters of such an immoral act are not much better than the criminal who waits to prey on the disarmed populace.

Hopefully, lawmakers will pass HB508 as quickly as possible so Ohioans won't be left to fend for themselves in the same manner as residents of the Gulf Coast. Representative Hood should also be commended for taking the first step in defending the rights of law-abiding citizens.

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