NEVER AGAIN: REMEMBERING THE KATRINA GUN-GRAB
Some Federal Way, Washington residents have devoted many evenings and weekends preparing for earthquakes, fire, WMD attacks or other disasters. One of the primary ways to get ready is to attend CERT training. Community Emergency Response Teams obtain first aid skills, learn how to use fire extinguishers and practice other skills like prioritizing assistance to victims and communicating with professionals. The professionals that normally respond to criminal activity, fires or other hazards may become totally overwhelmed by the damage that occurs to people, structures and communication networks when disaster strikes.
The aftermath of a major event causes shock and other physical symptoms that impair every one of us to some degree. Preparation for civil defense is normally presented in terms of responding to the aftermath rather than preventing an event. Professional police officers, medical personnel and other emergency responders know that it will take many volunteers in order to deal with events like the attacks on the WTC or the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
One of our CERT instructors, a firefighter, told us that only the police should have guns at a “crime scene”. If you show up as an armed CERT volunteer with a gun, you will be detained. Your weapon could be confiscated and you should expect never to be on a CERT team again! But the “crime scene” could include most of South King County. Then another firefighter told me, off the record, that many firefighters packed during the LA riots.
To the horror of honest citizens everywhere, New Orleans authorities entered homes and re-victimized honest gun-owners by confiscating guns. It took an NRA lawsuit to get the guns returned to the owners. Rape, looting and violence while homes were searched for weapons caused lawmakers in many states to enact laws that say, “Don’t confiscate guns when needed most to protect innocent lives!”
HB 1832 provides that Washingtonians not be deprived of our right to bear arms during an emergency. However, just because many other states have recently enacted such legislation, don’t expect to see such safeguards for gun-owners reported out of committee in Washington State very soon.
It could be dangerous having volunteers showing up at a “crime scene” with guns. Imagine how things could have gotten out of hand when tactical teams spread out through Mumbai killing and taking hostages. The shooters successfully targeted law enforcement. Untrained volunteers might have responded by harming themselves or others. What if the photographers that followed the shooters around with cameras had gotten ahold of guns? They might have taken matters into their hands. The terrorists might have even taken away their weapons and used their own weapons against them!
Our governor can issue an emergency order prohibiting you from having weapons outside your home in a crisis. The rationale is that volunteers should leave the professionals to deal with terrorists.
If you are a CERT member and local police officers are lying dead in the streets, would you consider showing up with a gun? If you are law enforcement, would you be inclined to confiscate my weapon if I can provide back-up? We propose making firearms training an optional component of CERT training. Then volunteers can be even more helpful to the professionals if things really get out of control.
I have had mas much formal gun training in the classroom and on the range as many experienced law enforcement officers. At the last minute, I decided to miss the final CERT drill rather than forego the opportunity to get additional AR-15 range time at our CMP rifle practice.
AR-15 is a civilian legal military-style rifle (assault rifle) and CMP stands for Civilian Marksmanship Program. CMP was initially established as the Directorate of Civilian Marksmanship by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt. The President believed that civilian marksmanship was an important key to the nation’s military preparedness. The government program provided weapons, training and competition in order to encourage folks of all ages to learn to shoot.
Nevertheless, in more recent times, our federal government determined that an armed citizenry is something of an anachronism and prepared to dissolve the program. Citizen-shooters raised a hue and cry resulting in the program becoming privatized as a quasi-governmental foundation. You can still get a good deal on an M1 Garand and certain other surplus rifles via the CMP program. An M1 Garand would be swell medicine against a team of killers like those boys that took over Mumbai for a day or two.