© 2005 Chuck Klein

Whose right is it? Yours to stay during a hurricane or other emergency condition, or the government's to force you to leave a place you own or control (business) and have every legal right to be in?

THE BEST OF CHUCK KLEINTo some it might seem simple, e.g., if there is a threat to you of imminent death or great bodily harm the government should have the right under emergency conditions to remove you, forcibly, if necessary. But, who defines "emergency conditions" and "imminent." Further, if the government has this right, do they also have the right to confiscate your guns (to keep them from being stolen by looters?) and/or demand you come with them unarmed?

On its face, it would appear that it would be to your advantage if everyone was evacuated and placed in a gun-free zone. Of course, "everyone" includes criminals and thugs and if you are aged, frail, of slight build or in anyway vulnerable to attacks by younger, stronger thugs then you, sans guns, are in a de facto self-defense free zone. Suppose your guns are a collection that is highly prized and valuable and tossing them into a box/bag/bin with other's guns will result in significant loss of value (assuming you are ever able to reclaim them after the "emergency conditions" have abated).

THE BADGEIt should be clear where I'm headed with this - the government, under the 4th Amendment (and other constitutional restraints), has no right to take your property without due process. Nor do they have the right to force you to leave for-your-own-good.

However, what if by your staying includes your insistence that your minor children or others you have legal custodial power over, also stay with you? Should the government have the power to remove a 17 year-old physically strong son - a person you are counting on to help secure and protect yourself and the property? Suppose the 17 year-old, the one you forced to stay, is killed as a result of the "emergency conditions," are you then subject to child endangering or other felony crimes?

Obviously, this a complex issue and one that is basically unprecedented. Recently, during Hurricane Katrina, some police agencies in New Orleans did confiscate firearms from some persons who were legally in possession of them. The NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation sought, and was granted, a temporary restraining order from the Federal District Court to restrain the police from continuing this practice until it is adjudicated by the court. This case might resolve one issue or part of one issue. But what about the other matters?

Of the few court cases over forced evacuations brought by survivors, have all came to naught ( Waco/Branch Davidians and FBI sniper/Ruby Ridge). The lesson is, government agents are given the benefit of the doubt - even when there is no doubt, because they will be judged by other government agents, i.e., members of the judiciary branch. Additionally, it is well established in the courts that the police have no duty to protect individual citizens. In other words, if they evacuate you, you're still on your own to provide self protection - only now you'll be without any means (weapons) to do so.

My suggestion: Establish that you are a prudent person (are prepared for such emergencies, i.e., have water, food, weapons, plans, etc.) Then, if in your opinion, your life and the lives of those under your control are safer where you are or where you can transport everyone; resist offers by any government agency to evacuate you - especially if you are prevented from taking your weapons (the only exception is if under martial law). There's lots worse things than dying, one might be living under tyranny. Another might be, knowing you and/or your family will be placed in an area where they will be unarmed and subject to rape, death or torture at the hands of thugs.