By Andrew Kidd
| Published: Monday, March 15, 2010
Updated: Monday, March 15, 2010
Andrew Kidd is a junior news-editorial journalism major and writes ‘Kidd at Play’ for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper.
In a world where the average citizen’s Second Amendment rights are constantly being undermined, we need all the help we can get. For the time being, we’re safe — at least in Indiana.
Well, as long as you leave your firearm in your car at work or the government declares a state of emergency that leaves law enforcement and military resources stretched thin.
On Feb. 22, the Indiana Senate voted 41-9 to pass House Bill 1065, also known as the Indiana Emergency Powers Bill. The bill prevents law enforcement and military personnel from confiscating legally owned firearms and ammunition from law-abiding citizens in a declared state of emergency, such as during a natural disaster or attack.
Another provision in the bill allows employees the right to keep firearms stored and locked in their vehicles while they are at their place of employment, guaranteeing that they won’t get fired as a result.
Let me say that I cannot adequately convey how important this is to the pro-firearms movement. It takes into consideration the safety of the average citizen in the event of a national emergency, where sometimes the only protection one has is one’s self.
A law like this certainly would have been useful in post-Katrina New Orleans, where police confiscated firearms — at gunpoint — and left city dwellers defenseless from looters, animals and politicians.
I can see the reasoning behind the decision to confiscate handguns, shotguns and rifles when trying to forcibly evacuate people from their own homes in the wake of the worst tragedy that has befallen a city. It’s like removing a goalie from a soccer game, which is the one thing that keeps you from getting the ball where it needs to go. Law enforcement is likely stretched thin enough that dealing with firearm-toting citizens who may potentially be criminals is one thing it doesn’t need on its plate when trying to force people from their homes.
But what about those who decided to stay? When law enforcement is stretched thin, so is protection. The police aren’t going to be everywhere at once in the event of a national emergency. Police aren’t even obligated to protect us in the first place.
Seriously. The Supreme Court decided in Castle Rock v. Gonzalez in 2005 that police have no constitutionally mandated duty to protect and serve. This basically leaves us at the mercy of local law enforcement’s code of ethics and guidelines.
With that decision, this law gains even more ground. A significant natural disaster that would put Indiana in a declared state of emergency is not likely anytime in the near future. It is still nice, however, to have some reassurance that when things go to hell in a hand basket, we’ll still have the ability to defend ourselves.
The Katrina example is a bit dated. Since then, former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed into law a National Rifle Association-backed Emergency Powers Protection Act, similar to the bill passed in Indiana. Also, to its credit, the New Orleans Police Department is returning confiscated firearms to their rightful owners through a form that can be submitted to the police department in person.
As for the other provision of the new Indiana bill, employers will no longer be allowed to punish employees for keeping legally owned firearms in their vehicles. It reinforces that Second Amendment rights don’t fall through when driving to and from work.
I’ll argue the other side before giving some examples. Opponents of keeping firearms locked in cars on company property posit that it may lead to another massacre such as the factory shooting in January at ABB Power in Missouri, which left three dead and five others wounded. The gunman arrived at the facility with several firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
That’s bad. Take it into consideration, however, that no trifling corporate policy on storing guns in one’s vehicle is going to stop a guy from shooting up his workplace if he really sets his mind to it. The only people that this policy affects are those who use their firearms for self-defense or who just haven’t gotten around to removing them from their vehicle after a hunting excursion or a trip to the range.
I’ll admit that if my place of employment knew what heat I was packing in my car at any given time before this law passed, I’d be out on the street playing bongos for cash. I keep a loaded pistol-grip shotgun in my car wherever I go (save for school, naturally). I’m not fooling around.
Neither should you. Exercise your right while you still have it because there are people who would take it away from you as soon as they get the chance.
Write to Andrew at [email protected].