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Thread: Town of Leesburg - Emergency Powers

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    Hi guys, I enjoy reading this forum because of the many knowledgeable folks posting. I apologize if this is not totally appropriate for this forum, but I'm not sure where to post this, or if I should even be concerned.

    While reading up on Leesburg's town codes, I came across this:

    Municode Link
    Sec. 12-4. Emergency powers.
    When a local emergency has been declared by the director pursuant to section 12-3, or by order of the governor, pursuant to Code of Virginia, § 44-146.17:
    (1) All departments and agencies of town government shall cooperate in full with all directives from the director or the coordinator.
    (2) The director or the coordinator may:
    a. Implement any applicable emergency plans and mutual aid agreements.
    b. Suspend all normal procurement requirements in whole or in part.
    c. Control, restrict, allocate or regulate the use, sale, production and distribution of food, fuel, clothing and other commodities, materials, goods, services and resource systems which fall only within the town.
    d. Establish shelters as he determines necessary. If any private property is declared to be a shelter, the owner thereof shall have the right to just compensation upon conclusion of the emergency, but he may not lawfully resist or interfere with the use of said property as a shelter during the emergency; provided however that no shelter shall be established in a private residence without the consent of the property owner.
    e. Commandeer and appropriate automobiles, boats, other vehicles, or other personal property if needed to protect the public. The owner of any such personal property shall have the right to just compensation upon conclusion of the emergency, but he may not lawfully resist or interfere with the taking of his property to protect the public.
    So I can't get Katrina out of my head when I read this. Is it not something to worry about, or is it something that needs attention? Is there any state law that would override the town's ability to seize firearms?

    After checking a few dozen other Virginia jurisdictions, the only one I could find with similar wording was for Portsmouth, VA: similar Municode for Portsmouth


    I have found this link:
    § 44-146.15 that says

    Nothing in this chapter is to be construed to:
    (3) Empower the Governor, any political subdivision, or any other governmental authority to in any way limit the rights of the people to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by Article I, Section 13 of the Constitution of Virginia or the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, including the lawful possession, sale, or transfer of firearms except to the extent necessary to ensure public safety in any place or facility designated or used by the Governor, any political subdivision of the Commonwealth or any other governmental entity as an emergency shelter or for the purpose of sheltering persons;
    But I'm not sure that overrides the Leesburg code, since it says "except to the extent necessary to ensure public safety in ... any political subdivision of the Commonwealth". Isn't the Town of Leesburg a political subdivision of the Commonwealth, or am I just not versed enough in Legalese to understand it?

    By the way, there's also some interesting stuff in the Virginia Code that makes anyone involved in emergency duties exempt from liability for "the death of, or any injury to, persons or damage to property" while "engaged in any emergency services activities". Great stuff! :shock:


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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    In other words, your 5th Amendment right to just compensation will be dealt with after the declaration is cancelled, but for the duration your 4th and 5th Amendment rights are null and void.

    I do not see the political subdivisions of the Commonwealth needing to confiscate my personal weapons in order to protect the public. The police and the National Guard ought to have enough weapons and ammunition for that, and if they do not the Governor can call out the Militia.

    Having participated in several mock disaster drills in the past, there is good reason for commandeering and appropriating certain personal property for the protection of the public. In a mass disaster it may, for instance, be necessary to go to the local grocery store and take all the food and non-alcoholic beverages to a mass feeding site while waiting for FEMA to truck in MREs and bottled water. It may be necessary to take sleeping bags, blankets and mattresses from WalMart to equip a shelter until FEMA trucks in cots and linens. It may be necessary to commandeer and appropriate stakebed or flatbed trucks from the local construction company to haul all that stuff.

    But commandeer and appropriate my personal arsenal? There was a law passed following the NoLa fiasco that says no way, no how. IIRC there was not only a law passed here in Virginia but one at the federal level as well. I'm too lazy to look it up - someone else can do that.

    stay safe.

    skidmark
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    Thanks for the reply.

    Yeah, I can certainly appreciate the need to commandeer the type of items you mentioned. Maybe I'm just not clear why Leesburg specifically spelled out those powers whereas nearly all other localities did not.

    I do not see the political subdivisions of the Commonwealth needing to confiscate my personal weapons in order to protect the public. The police and the National Guard ought to have enough weapons and ammunition for that, and if they do not the Governor can call out the Militia.
    Nor do I. So then I guessmy concernwould be why did they put in the books that they could. Granted,firearms aren't specifically mentioned, but "property" could mean pretty much anything and everything you own. Get the wrong people in the right places and who knows what they would think needed to be done, given authority. It's happened before.

    But commandeer and appropriate my personal arsenal? There was a law passed following the NoLa fiasco that says no way, no how. IIRC there was not only a law passed here in Virginia but one at the federal level as well. I'm too lazy to look it up - someone else can do that.
    I think I found the relevant Virginia law, linked in my post above, but my understanding is that the town can override it. If there's one at the federal level though, I'll be happy!





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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    jm04 wrote:
    I think I found the relevant Virginia law, linked in my post above, but my understanding is that the town can override it. If there's one at the federal level though, I'll be happy!
    No, no - I do not think so. State law/statute is superior.

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    I believe you are misreading the state code. It does not allow localities to seize firearms during emergencies generally. The exception is much more narrow.

    "except to the extent necessary to ensure public safety in any place or facility designated or used by the Governor, any political subdivision of the Commonwealth or any other governmental entity as an emergency shelter or for the purpose of sheltering persons"

    The exception allows the governor, a political subdivision, or other governmental entities to restrict your right to bear arms during emergencies at any place or facility that is being used for an emergency shelter.

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    WhatTimeIsIt? wrote:
    I believe you are misreading the state code. It does not allow localities to seize firearms during emergencies generally. The exception is much more narrow.

    "except to the extent necessary to ensure public safety in any place or facility designated or used by the Governor, any political subdivision of the Commonwealth or any other governmental entity as an emergency shelter or for the purpose of sheltering persons"

    The exception allows the governor, a political subdivision, or other governmental entities to restrict your right to bear arms during emergencies at any place or facility that is being used for an emergency shelter.
    Yes, and that's almost as bad... if your house becomes uninhabitable due to a natural disaster, and you are forced to seek shelter elsewhere, then they can steal your firearms.

    This law needs to be changed.

    TFred


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    Regular Member IanB's Avatar
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    WhatTimeIsIt? wrote:
    I believe you are misreading the state code. It does not allow localities to seize firearms during emergencies generally. The exception is much more narrow.

    "except to the extent necessary to ensure public safety in any place or facility designated or used by the Governor, any political subdivision of the Commonwealth or any other governmental entity as an emergency shelter or for the purpose of sheltering persons"

    The exception allows the governor, a political subdivision, or other governmental entities to restrict your right to bear arms during emergencies at any place or facility that is being used for an emergency shelter.
    I think you are misreading my intent for posting the code/link. I frequently post links of this nature without comment so others will read for themselves, draw conclusions, and discuss. I'm a very lazy person, so this also serves the purpose of empowering new users to use that special site, what was it again? Oh yeah... GOOGLE to answer questions such as this one: "Is there any state law that would override the town's ability to seize firearms?"

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    Ok, I am VERY anal when it comes to my personal driving machine. I would almost be of a mind to set it on fire rather than turn it over to some government maggot. It's mine and mine it will stay. Good reason to try to get a "Manufacturer's Statement of Origin". Then they couldn't touch it nor tax it.

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    @Naked:

    I consider subsection (3) of that code cite to be pretty self-explanatory. Thanks for the info.

    I also see that subsection (5) would probably prevent anyone from carrying his personal firearms into a FEMA shelter/camp. Bloody shame, that.
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    SouthernBoy wrote:
    Good reason to try to get a "Manufacturer's Statement of Origin". Then they couldn't touch it nor tax it.
    A piece of paper may help with the legal stuff after the fact but do you sincerely think a piece of paper is going to prevent the commandeering of your property? I'm thinking about New Orleans at this moment.

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    lax wrote:
    SouthernBoy wrote:
    Good reason to try to get a "Manufacturer's Statement of Origin". Then they couldn't touch it nor tax it.
    A piece of paper may help with the legal stuff after the fact but do you sincerely think a piece of paper is going to prevent the commandeering of your property? I'm thinking about New Orleans at this moment.
    A piece of paper backed up with a bunch of fully armed neighbors may do the job.

    This is what should have been the response to the confiscations in New Orleans after Katrina. Get a slew of good 'ole boys heavily armed, standing in the streets and telling those who would try to take their property, "Not today, not tomorrow, not ever".

    That's the American way.


    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

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    SouthernBoy wrote:
    Ok, I am VERY anal when it comes to my personal driving machine. I would almost be of a mind to set it on fire rather than turn it over to some government maggot. It's mine and mine it will stay.
    I agree.

    An emergency does not nullify civilization and the customs that come with it, such as respect for property. Nor does "necessity" overide "right". In fact, it is the mark of civilization that in dire cirumstances you resist the urge to trample the rights of others.

    And it boggles my mind how so many gunowners are okay with having their car, house, or foodtaken as long as they get to keep their guns.

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    Tomahawk wrote:
    SouthernBoy wrote:
    Ok, I am VERY anal when it comes to my personal driving machine. I would almost be of a mind to set it on fire rather than turn it over to some government maggot. It's mine and mine it will stay.
    I agree.

    An emergency does not nullify civilization and the customs that come with it, such as respect for property. Nor does "necessity" overide "right". In fact, it is the mark of civilization that in dire cirumstances you resist the urge to trample the rights of others.

    And it boggles my mind how so many gunowners are okay with having their car, house, or foodtaken as long as they get to keep their guns.


    Props to you, Tomahawk. I couldn't agree more.

    I wonder how many on these forums know that the original phrasing of the famous, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" was actually, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of property". Thomas Jefferson understood that a man cannot be truly free who does not own property.

    And there is this. All rights derive from property. All of them. Take a eight hour break one weekend and listen to Michael Badnarik's video lessons. He's right.


    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    America First!

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    SouthernBoy wrote:
    I wonder how many on these forums know that the original phrasing of the famous, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" was actually, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of property". Thomas Jefferson understood that a man cannot be truly free who does not own property.

    And there is this. All rights derive from property. All of them. Take a eight hour break one weekend and listen to Michael Badnarik's video lessons. He's right.

    Actually, read John Locke's 2nd Treatise on Government, written in the late 1600s. It was from this text that Mr. Jefferson borrowed the phrase "life, liberty, and property" when he wrote the forst draft of the DoI. And Locke's whole philosophy was based on the right of property, which also includes your self. It's a classic natural law text from the old days, following the whole Cromwell period.

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    I don't believe that the Town has the authority to issue an ordinance like that. The code section cited provides the Governor with certain authority, but not a town, and certainly not prior to any actual emergency.

    Nothing in the Virginia Code or any municipal ordinance can authorize taking of private property without "due process" or without compensation.
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    Tomahawk wrote:
    Actually, read John Locke's 2nd Treatise on Government, written in the late 1600s. It was from this text that Mr. Jefferson borrowed the phrase "life, liberty, and property" when he wrote the forst draft of the DoI. And Locke's whole philosophy was based on the right of property, which also includes your self. It's a classic natural law text from the old days, following the whole Cromwell period.
    Of which the Hamiltonian school argued and a compromise arose that replaced "property" with "the pursuit of happiness".

    It has been a thorn in the side of liberty ever since.
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    Bulldog1967 wrote:
    They better bring friends....lots of friends.
    +1
    Carry On.

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    ed wrote:
    Bulldog1967 wrote:
    They better bring friends....lots of friends.
    +1
    +6 (members of myhousehold that know how to load and shoot firearms)

    x(f) (number of firearms in the household)
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    However, like most of us, as I go through my daily life, I carry something a bit more compact, with a lot less power."
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