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Katrina 10th Anniversary
If you are a member of the NRA, you know that this is the 10th anniversary of hurricane Katrina and efforts by New Orleans law enforcement to confiscate guns from residents. Police Superintendent P. Edwin Compass is widely quoted as saying, "No one will be able to be armed," and, "Guns will be taken. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns."

You can read the NRA press release here ...

According to the articles I've read thousands of firearms were seized without warrants, without receipts and many disappeared. The city refused to return firearms unless the owners could produce a sales receipt, but that was later relaxed a bit.  However, from what I've read, return included requiring owners to produce a serial number and performing background checks on owners who came in to claim their guns (if they were still available). For me, the most disappointing aspect of this is that all of those public servants involved in the confiscation effort did not honor their oath to defend the Constitution, because they obviously walked away from the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments when they took firearms from law abiding citizens under the rationale that the emergency declared by local authorities justified suspending these Constitutional guarantees.

Why does this matter in Colorado?

1. The efforts to combat and reverse the confiscation prominently involved researchers from Colorado's Independence Institute, notably, lawyer (and Independence Institute researcher) Stephen P. Halbrook who was involved in developing the documents filed with the courts that ultimately resulted in an order to cease the practice and return guns, and research director David Kopel. If you've not seen the wealth information about the 2nd Amendment on David's web site, you've missed a valuable resource. Big KUDOs to the Colorado Independence Institute for defending the 2nd Amendment.  Here is David's 2nd Amendment web site ...

The federal reaction was to pass legislation that prohibited such seizures in future disaster scenarios, but since local authorities ignored the Constitution and their oaths to defend the Constitution in responding to Katrina, I doubt whether a federal law will matter much.  22 states also enacted legislation to prohibit such seizures (I don't know whether Colorado is among them).

2. According to federal government after action reports, Colorado Sheriff's offices sent 70 deputies to New Orleans to assist the New Orleans police and, presumably, to act under their direction. Whether they were or were not involved in the confiscation, I have no clue. I would hope that among the 6,800 law enforcement officers dispatched from other states to Louisiana, that the Colorado folks honored their oaths. Under federal bureaucracy, local agencies can assist one another under an Emergency Management Assistance Compact and have their expenses reimbursed by FEMA. So, if there is a disaster in Colorado, you can expect to see folks from other states as emergency responders.  The Katrina after action report is here...

3.  We're not really different from New Orleans.  Only one unilaterally declared emergency by a local official can make the same thing happen here.  Think forest fires or a tornado in Denver.
One of the questions I ask myself is why do people obey orders and commands that they know are illegal? 

Like Katrina … imagine a senior officer telling you “This is an emergency.  Ray Nagin says so.  Go into that house and search it for guns and take them away.  If anybody gives you any crap, shoot them or arrest them.”  At least one or two officers should have said “BS.  That’s illegal.  That's just looting.   The people who have their guns need a means to defend themselves because there is no effective law enforcement.   This is exactly when they need their guns.  I’m not gonna obey that illegal order.”  But that did not happen.  People obeyed orders from authority figures rather than the law, common sense and the Constitution they took a solemn oath to defend. 

The desire to obey orders, conform and the fear that one will get into trouble have always proven to be stronger than the law.  "I know this is wrong, but I am obeying orders, 'cause if I don't, I'll get fired or get into trouble."  That raises the obvious question of why someone would want to work for an agency that they know acts illegally/immorally. 

Being an old guy, I saw the same question raised in the early 1960s about the German people who knew what Hitler was doing, but did not resist or disobey.  The ridiculed defense of German war criminals was “Just following orders.”

This is a good, short (9 minutes) video on the psychology of authority … why people will do things they know are wrong if the order comes from someone who merely appears to possess authority.  It describes the Milgram experiments from the early 1960s that have been demonstrated over and over again.  The disturbing conclusion of the Milgram experiments is that 50-60% of the population will kill a stranger over their own moral objections if ordered to do so by someone who simply appears to be in authority figure.
Great evil is possible with just one guy in authority -- even just apparent authority -- telling underlings what to do and the desire to conform/obey does the rest.

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