The mayor of New Orleans issued a proclamation last week giving her the power to ban the sale and transport of firearms in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell has not indicated whether she plans to use her newfound power, but the sweeping declaration of emergency could significantly limit the Second Amendment rights of New Orleans residents.
“Subject to the provisions of Act 275 of 2006 (Regular Session), the Emergency Authority is hereby empowered, if necessary, to suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transporting of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, and combustibles,” the proclamation states.
Act 275 of 2006 prohibits the mayor from confiscating lawfully possessed firearms, but New Orleans mayors have historically been more than willing to curtail the rights of their citizens. Act 275 of 2006 was passed after then-Mayor Ray Nagin tried seizing firearms in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As Second Amendment Foundation executive vice president Alan Gottlieb noted in a statement, Nagin’s administration had to be sued before it started respecting Second Amendment rights.
Following Hurricane Katrina, we sued the city when then-Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration began confiscating firearms from law-abiding citizens for no good reason. The federal court order the city to cease confiscations.
We sued New Orleans then, and we’ll do it again. The presence of a nasty disease does not suspend any part of the Bill of Rights, no matter what some municipal, state or even federal politician may think. While we certainly recognize the seriousness of this virus and its ability to spread rapidly, treating Covid-19 and taking steps to prevent it from infecting more people has nothing at all to do with the exercise of the right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment.
Gottlieb added, “People legally licensed to carry should not have their right to do so suddenly curtailed because some politician panicked. We didn’t allow it before, and we’re not going to allow it now.”
Though she has yet to restrict gun rights, Cantrell has already used another provision in her March 11 proclamation to close bars and restaurants. In a second proclamation on March 15, Cantrell specifically highlights her authority to “suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages” as legal justification for her decision.
Cantrell isn’t the first mayor during the COVID-19 outbreak to empower herself to restrict firearm use. Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen of Champaign, Illinois, passed a resolution that allows city officials to ban firearms it they deem the action necessary. Feinen claims she has no plans to ban firearms, but the move sparked local outrage.