Slowly Sinking The Statist Ship

I haven’t taken the time to read the actual text of the bill, but this announcement marks an interesting turnaround in disaster-related firearms policy.

Fairfax, VA- The National Rifle Association (NRA) and law-abiding gun owners scored a significant victory yesterday when the United States Congress acted to prohibit the confiscation of legal firearms from law-abiding citizens during states of emergency, barring practices conducted by officials in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This action was included in the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill that passed both chambers of Congress. This bill now heads to President Bush for his expected signature.

I remember some years ago that CDC was pushing a rather odious idea known as the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (which later came under the “Turning Point National Collaborative on Public Health Statute Modernization”).  The model legislation had been around for a while, and 9/11 gave them the excuse to push it under the guise of homeland security.  Here’s a brief summary of the key points of the act (emphasis added):

Under the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, upon the declaration of a “public health emergency,” governors and public health officials would be empowered to:

  1. Force individuals suspected of harboring an “infectious disease” to undergo medical examinations.
  2. Track and share an individual’s personal health information, including genetic information.
  3. Force persons to be vaccinated, treated, or quarantined for infectious diseases.
  4. Mandate that all health care providers report all cases of persons who harbor any illness or health condition that may be caused by an epidemic or an infectious agent and might pose a “substantial risk” to a “significant number of people or cause a long-term disability.” (Note: Neither “substantial risk” nor “significant number” are defined in the draft.)
  5. Force pharmacists to report any unusual or any increased prescription rates that may be caused by epidemic diseases.
  6. Preempt existing state laws, rules and regulations, including those relating to privacy, medical licensure, and—this is key—property rights.
  7. Control public and private property during a public health emergency, including pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, nursing homes, other health care facilities, and communications devices.
  8. Mobilize all or any part of the “organized militia into service to the state to help enforce the state’s orders.”
  9. Ration firearms, explosives, food, fuel and alcoholic beverages, among other commodities.
  10. Impose fines and penalties to enforce their orders

Sometimes I really worry about “health professionals.”  So often when you scratch the surface of one you run into an unalloyed statist, and this proposal is just more of the same (it’s interesting to note that one of the key players in this nonsense was also deeply involved in the Hillarycare debacle). 

I can only hope that this new legislation overrides or invalidates any confiscation-related firearm provisions that might have been adopted in various states:

As of July 15, 2006, thirty-two (32) states have introduced a total of one-hundred and three (103) legislative bills or resolutions that are based upon or feature provisions related to the Articles or sections of the Turning Point Act. Of these bills, thirty-nine (39) have passed.

A lot of the provisions that have passed were related to reporting of diseases, so you’d have to check state-by-state for emergency firearms laws.  But that this passed is a positive step in the direction of invalidating odious laws.

Update.  The new law forbids the Federal government, or anyone working for or on behalf of (takes Federal funds), from confiscating firearms, etc.

No officer or employee of the United States (including any member of the uniformed services), or person operating pursuant to or under color of Federal law, or receiving Federal funds, or under control of any Federal official, or providing services to such an officer, employee, or other person, while acting in support of relief from a major disaster or emergency, may—
‘‘(1) temporarily or permanently seize, or authorize seizure of, any firearm the possession of which is not prohibited under Federal, State, or local law, other than for forfeiture in compliance with Federal law or as evidence in a criminal investigation;
‘‘(2) require registration of any firearm for which registration is not required by Federal, State, or local law;
‘‘(3) prohibit possession of any firearm, or promulgate any rule, regulation, or order prohibiting possession of any firearm, in any place or by any person where such possession is not otherwise prohibited by Federal, State, or local law; or
‘‘(4) prohibit the carrying of firearms by any person otherwise authorized to carry firearms under Federal, State, or local law, solely because such person is operating under the direction, control, or supervision of a Federal agency in support of relief from the major disaster or emergency.
‘‘(b) LIMITATION.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any person in subsection (a) from requiring the temporary surrender of a firearm as a condition for entry into any mode of transportation used for rescue or evacuation during a major disaster or emergency, provided that such temporarily surrendered firearm is returned at the completion of such rescue or evacuation.”

The repeated references to “Federal, State, or local law” have me wondering, though.  Reading (3), it would appear that if a state passed a law in advance that gave the police power to confiscate firearms in an emergency, that it might just fall under the “not otherwise prohibited by Federal, State, or local law” phrasing.  I suppose the proof will be in whether we see anyone actually win a suit based on this law and the size of the verdict (it’s somewhat telling that no criminal liability appears to be attached to violation of the new statute).

1 Comment

  1. Bitter says:

    Another thing to keep in mind (not to dash your hopes any more than they may be) is that approps bills are only valid for a year.  So this has to either be inserted every year or they have to work on a stand alone bill or amendment to a non-approps bill.