Gun Rights Group Outraged that New Orleans Officials Confiscated Guns

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - A gun rights group is calling a decision by New Orleans officials to confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens "simply outrageous."

Gun Owners of America challenged the mayor's authority to order the confiscations.

"You can't legitimately suspend the God-given rights of American citizens who have committed no crimes," said Erich Pratt, director of communications for GOA.

Pratt said the confiscations won't 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," he said.

"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,'" said Pratt.

"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."

Pratt said during the riots in 1992, the city was "in complete turmoil as stores were looted and burned. Motorists were dragged from their cars and beaten." In Los Angeles, as in New Orleans, police were slow to respond to the crisis, he said.

Even National Guardsmen who were sent to the affected areas just sat back and watched the violence because they were low on ammunition, said Pratt.

"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."

According to media reports on the aftermath of the LA riots, "life-long gun control supporters were running to gun stores" to buy guns only to find there was a 15-day waiting period for firearms, said Pratt.

"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," concluded Pratt.

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