Second amendment rights reaffirmed
By By Jo Bonner
The House of Representatives last week passed H.R. 5013, the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act to prevent law enforcement officials from confiscating the firearms of law-abiding citizens during natural disasters. This legislation passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 322-99.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many citizens realized their worst fears-they were stranded in abandoned neighborhoods without phones or the means to summon help. To make matters even worse, many were forced to relinquish their firearms, which they possessed in compliance with federal and state laws.
ABC News quoted the New Orleans deputy police chief as saying, "No one will be able to be armed. We are going to take all the weapons."
News stations captured images of New Orleans residents being handcuffed, de-armed, and then released without their firearms. It was also reported that California Highway Patrol officers in New Orleans forced an elderly woman to the ground to obtain her pistol and forcibly removed her from her home.
A time of public emergency is absolutely the wrong time to be disarming law-abiding citizens. This not only violates the 2nd Amendment, but it leaves citizens vulnerable and unable to protect themselves, their loved ones, or their property.
Following Hurricane Katrina, officers in New Orleans declared that only police officers were to have weapons. Many feared that those who were looting stores would soon turn to residents' homes. Those who had stayed to protect their homes and property found themselves without any means of defense.
H.R. 5013 would prevent any agency using federal disaster relief funds from seizing the firearms of law-abiding citizens. It does not prevent officials from confiscating guns from convicted felons, nor does it affect law enforcement operations outside of disaster relief situations. This is, of course, as long as there is no existing federal or state legislation declaring otherwise.
Obviously, these problems only added to the chaos that was the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Firearms could have provided not only security but peace of mind so desperately needed during this time of crisis.
The Second Amendment of the Constitution states that citizens have the right to possess firearms. As the worst of hurricane season approaches, I am proud the House has passed this legislation.
H.R. 5013 reaffirms that even in times of crisis and natural disaster, the Constitution applies, while protecting the right of American citizens to keep and bear arms. The bill now goes to the Senate.
President Signs Landmark Child Protection Legislation
Legislation that will help protect children from sexual predators was signed by the president late last week after having passed both the House and the Senate.
As the father of two young children, I know that every parent's worst nightmare is having their child become the victim of a violent criminal or sexual predator.
There are more than 600,000 registered sex offenders in the United States; however, as many as 150,000 are currently unaccounted for because they have failed to comply with registration duties. H.R. 4472, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, creates a national public sex offender registry. It provides the public with more comprehensive and uniform information about sex offenders so that all communities benefit from the same kind of information.
The legislation implements strict mandatory minimum sentences for kidnapping or sexually assaulting a child, and it increases law enforcement's ability to combat child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children over the internet. Of the estimated 24 million child internet users, one in five has received unwanted sexual solicitations.
There is no more vile or despicable act than the sexual exploitation of children. Convicted sex offenders should never have a second opportunity to harm a child.
To learn more about what you can do to protect your children, visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's website at www.missingkids.com.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website at http://bonner.house.gov.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.