NEW ORLEANS, LA – In what looks like some more knee-jerk reaction “safety protocols,” the Mayor of New Orleans signed a couple of emergency orders that can restrict the sale or transportation of alcohol and firearms.
In light of COVID-19, it’s understandable to see certain actions transpire in response. We’ve seen businesses temporarily close, public schools shut down, things like that.
Never let a crisis go to waste, right? https://t.co/v4wIH3eoGa
— GrrrGraphics Cartoons (@GrrrGraphics) March 17, 2020
However, what does limiting or stopping the sale of alcohol and guns have to do with safety measures?
Mayor LaToya Cantrell signed two declarations days apart from each other, both loaded with language pertaining to what the local government can do in states of emergency. Most of the aspects outlined were standard emergency response concepts.
Yet, here’s the text describing said authority about guns and alcohol signed on March 11th:
“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.”
New Orleans mayor announces plans to block sales and TRANSPORTING of guns and alcohol. Checking the LA laws, she *might* have authority to stop sales. No way does she have authority to block transport. That would cancel open and concealed carry. pic.twitter.com/e8W5830k6E
— Tom Gresham (@Guntalk) March 15, 2020
Oddly enough, a second declaration was signed on the 16th of March, reiterating portions from the initial document signed the week prior. One specific portion had emphasized that alcohol sales can be restricted by this enacted authority:
“WHEREAS, La. R.S. 29:727(F) authorizes the Mayor to ‘control ingress and egress to and from the affected area, movement of persons within the area, and the occupancy of premises therein’, and to ‘suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages…’”
Even in cities that have enacted the strictest of quarantines (San Francisco comes to mind), of the places available to the public that would remain open are grocery or department stores that have grocery sections.
Meaning, if stores that carry alcohol or firearms (like Wal-Mart) aren’t going to be closed in these efforts, why ban two products that many would sell?
New Orleans mayor authorizes ability to ban gun sales during coronavirus emergency if city desires – https://t.co/PEMtxGBkEg
— OurGunFreedoms (@ourgunfreedoms) March 17, 2020
The Second Amendment Foundation isn’t thrilled with this language present in the declarations either, and are asking similar questions as to what this has to due with COVID-19.
The SAF penned a response to Mayor Cantrell’s office, informing them that if they don’t fix that language in the declaration then they’ll be taken to court:
“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.”
Apparently, the organization has dealt with the city before, during the time of Hurricane Katrina.
When Mayor Ray Nagin was running New Orleans, Nagin’s administration began confiscating legally owned firearms.
The Mayor went to the Ray Nagin School of Crisis Management! Remember during Katrina that Cops were sent door to door confiscating Guns in New Orleans? Left their most vulnerable law-abiding citizens with no protection! (Thanks to Mayor Ray Nagin)
— Deborah Diltz (@DeborahDiltz) March 17, 2020
The SAF issued a warning about their intent to sue the city of it comes down to it. They made reference to when they brought the city to court, and won, over the firearm confiscations:
“We sued New Orleans then, and we’ll do it again.”
This kind of deemed authority/declaration is essentially mirroring what’s going on in Champaign, Illinois.
In what can be considered an unprecedented move, the mayor of Champaign, Illinois signed an executive order giving her the authority to ban the sale of guns and alcohol, allegedly to address the coronavirus.
The pertinent part of the order is in Exhibit A, Sec. 12-39, 4-7. It is unbelievable that this order is even remotely constitutional.
Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen signed the executive order on Thursday, declaring a state of emergency in the city. The executive order, which falls under the municipal code gives the mayor extraordinary powers to enact over a short period of time.
Beside the power to ban the sale of guns and alcohol, it also can ban the sale of gasoline, imposing food rationing and placing price controls on goods and services, and:
Order city employees or agents, on behalf of the City, to take possession of any real or personal property of any person or to acquire full title or such lesser interest as may be necessary to deal with a disaster or emergency, and to take possession of and for a limited time, occupy and use any real estate to accomplish alleviation of the disaster, or the effects thereof;
Jeff Hamilton, city manager told WAND:
“The executive order allows the city to be flexible to properly respond to the emergency needs of our community.
None of the options will necessarily be implemented but are available to protect the welfare and safety of our community if needed.”
The city council held a meeting Friday to address community concerns about the powers granted to Feinen. Deputy Mayor Tom Bruno said that each ordinance considered under the executive order would be ratified by the council.
The city additionally released a statement claiming that the council and mayor would only take steps “necessary to ensure the health, safety and welfare” of the city.
Basically the city council will have to pass an ordinance related to the order at a special emergency meeting.
“The City will keep the public’s best interest in mind as we continue to work alongside public health officials and countywide leaders,” the council said in a statement.
“We understand this is a challenging time but working collaboratively as a community is the best approach to combating this virus.”
In a press release, the city said:
“If passed, the ordinance would provide the city increased flexibility in many different areas to allow the city to continue to function effectively during emergency operations,” the release said.
“Some of these areas include city council meetings, meetings of boards and commissions, gatherings and licensed activities, purchases, personnel policies, bargaining units, city facilities, ordinance violations, amounts due and owing the city, and other emergency powers as outlined in the municipal code.”
On Friday evening, the city released a statement that was also posted on their Facebook page, in which they stated they were responding to “several false claims circulating online.”
They reiterated that there is currently no firearm ban and no intent to seize property and close businesses.
According to WAND-17, the city listed only 11 of the provisions they voted on, however the news station said they were provided a full document where Section 10 of the approved emergency order lists 30 provisional powers being provided to the mayor.
When asked about the provisions, she said:
“So many of those powers I have had from the beginning. All we have done is enumerate them and now the public is aware of them.
So, I am the liquor commissioner. I can shut down bars yesterday. I could have shut them down two years ago.
Nothing has changed with respect to that, it is just that we have laid it out, so people are aware of that.
In respect to the other items that are listed in the attachment, they have been listed in the city code for 15 years.”
Sounds like this lady is on a bit of a power trip, just saying.
As of this past Friday, Illinois had 32 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but none in the central Illinois area, where Champaign is located. On Monday, the governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker announced a disaster proclamation as the state prepared to address the coronavirus.
While obviously times like this require unusual steps, this particular ordinance seems to give a great deal of power and leeway to the mayor.
One needs to imagine that when some other power hungry politicians get similar ideas, it may get interesting. Given the political climate in our country and the anti-gun fervor, some politician somewhere will get the idea to make a run on guns.
If that happens, coronavirus may be the least of our problems.
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