Gun Confiscation in New Orleans

Few people objected when police began gathering firearms they found in abandoned New Orleans homes, to prevent them from falling into the hands of criminals. But one gun policy expert says confiscating guns from law abiding citizens who remain in the city is increasing the danger posed by criminals. . . .

Lott . . . told Cybercast News Service that he is "very disappointed" with the decision by New Orleans leaders.

"The question is, 'Are the police there able to protect people?' And I think he would have to be one of the first to acknowledge that the police simply aren't capable of protecting the people who are there," Lott said. "One thing that this hurricane has shown is that people are ultimately forced to protect themselves. It would be nice if the police were available to go and protect everybody, but they're not."

Police were forced, Lott said, to choose between rescuing hurricane survivors and enforcing the law. The necessary choice, he believes, left unarmed residents defenseless.

"They just weren't able to do both and many people were falling victim to criminals," Lott argued, "You had roving gangs going around and it's not really clear what else you would have advised someone to do other than having a gun for protection."

Lott said he is also disappointed that police appear to be engaging in "selective" gun confiscation. After Compass expanded the original order, the New York Times reported that it, "apparently does not apply to the hundreds of security guards whom businesses and some wealthy individuals have hired to protect their property."

Police officials would not respond to reporters' questions about allowing the guards, who are private citizens with firearms training similar to concealed weapons permit holders, to keep their guns.

"They seem selective in ways that are a little bit hard to fathom in terms of who they let have a gun," Lott said, adding that many wealthy individuals were also apparently being allowed to keep their firearms. "Lots of people who live in the poorest areas there probably needed the most protection."

Lott said the police are "running a real risk" by taking away the only protection some New Orleans residents have from criminals.

"There are obviously bad people there who have guns. But, to take away the guns from the law abiding citizens - so that they can't protect themselves from those same people that the police are worried about - I don't think makes much sense," Lott concluded. "You're going to end up creating more victims and easier targets for criminals to attack."