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Thread: Legislators look to curb power allowed during emergencies. Bill would limit seizing of guns

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Washington Island, across Death's Door, Wisconsin, USA

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    State lawmakers want to clip the power of the governor and local officials to seize people's guns during emergencies, saying that authority could trample the rights of citizens.

    Legislators said they decided to try to curb those powers after seeing New Orleans police officers take guns from people during the recovery from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

    The Republican-run Assembly passed the bill this month on a bipartisan 84-13 vote, and the Democratic-led Senate is looking at doing the same soon.

    "I just think it's important that if there ever is a disaster similar to Katrina, that citizens are able to defend themselves, their families and their property and not be worried about government coming and confiscating their firearms," said Rep. Scott Gunderson (R-Waterford), the sponsor of the bill.

    But Rep. Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) said he was worried the bill goes too far. He said he recalls seeing the police stop vigilantes with guns from entering Milwaukee when it was gripped by civil unrest in 1967.

    He said that around that time, a man trained a gun on him from a third-floor window as Kessler walked down Juneau Ave.

    "I thought, 'Oh, my, my. . . he may just kill me,' " Kessler said. "That incident was very vivid in my mind."

    Police must be able to fully protect people during such times, he said.

    "I don't want to seize guns," he said. "I want to limit the transportation of weapons into areas of confrontation."

    Kessler was one of 13 Democrats to vote against the bill. Thirty-three Democrats joined 51 Republicans to pass the measure.

    The governor, the adjutant general who runs the Wisconsin National Guard and local officials have long been able to exercise emergency powers during disasters or civil unrest. The bill would prohibit those officials from using their emergency powers to "restrict the lawful possession, transfer, sale, transport, storage, display or use of firearms or ammunition."

    Twenty-one other states, including Louisiana, have passed similar laws since Hurricane Katrina, according to the National Rifle Association, which backs the law.
    The proposed law in Wisconsin is broader than some. For instance, the Louisiana law provides an exemption that gives police the power to take a gun from someone if they believe they need to do so to protect themselves or others.

    But Gunderson said his bill would not curb the normal powers of the police because they would be able to do the same things during emergencies that they can do during other times. Officers could set up roadblocks to stop traffic if needed, which would prevent everyone - including those transporting firearms - from getting into specific areas, he said.

    Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D-Weston) said he would like his house to pass the bill soon.

    "I think people's homes are their castles, and law-abiding citizens that are playing by the rules ought to have a protection that government is not going to intrude on their property," Decker said.

    "This is more than just a gun issue. This is an invasion of law-abiding people's residences by government officials - you shouldn't be able to do that without cause."
    Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle will review the bill if it gets to him to decide whether to sign it, aide Carla Vigue said.

    "We really need to understand the implications of curtailing the powers of emergency management during a time of crisis," Vigue said.

  2. #2
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA

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    Any representative who voted against this bill is NOT upholding the constitution and should never be elected again.

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