Sunday, May 31, 2015

Book Review: The Great New Orleans Gun Grab

The Great New Orleans Gun Grab: Descent into Anarchy by Gordon Hutchinson and Todd Masson focuses on the lawlessness in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The lawlessness described includes that of criminals, looters, and most notably, the police.

New Orleans was the site of systematic and pervasive illegal, unconstitutional seizures of legally owned firearms. Police beat citizens possessing firearms and arrested the gun owners as means of retaliation. Some guns were discarded into canals, others were destroyed, and many were stolen by officers for personal gain.

The horror stories of police corruption, police looting, police murder, and civil rights violations galore are well-know. The New Orleans Police in the aftermath was an ineffectual force acting as nothing more than armed bullies. Defiance of the police did bring swift and severe retaliation in many cases. Armed resistance against tyrannical police abuse would have likely brought an overwhelming assault from mixed local, state, federal, out-of-state law enforcement and military forces. An out-of-control government had its day, failing to protect its citizens from each other, but yet denying them an ability to defend themselves.

The following excerpts are from the book. 
“Police Superintendent Eddie Compass stated: ‘No one will be able to be armed. We are going to take all the weapons.’”
 “The police even stopped private citizens with their vehicles packed, trying to leave the city in the weeks after the storm. Though they were obviously trying to evacuate, the police would pull their vehicles over, ask the passengers if any guns were in the vehicle, and make them unload their belongings on the street until the firearms were found.
 “The cops would then confiscate the guns, frequently refusing to identify themselves or allow the citizens to copy down the serial numbers. In depositions given to NRA and SAF attorneys, some citizens described their firearms being broken and damaged before their eyes by smashing the guns into the pavement.”
 “A common explanation for the behavior of the cops in New Orleans was that the city as ‘under martial law.’ Thus many people, even the victims of the thuggish and criminal behavior of the police at the time, believed the activities of the police and military units were justified because the city was under such an order[...] Nothing could be further from the truth... In point of fact, there was no martial law order in the aftermath of Katrina[...]
 “[...] persons purported to be strong defenders of the police, and used half-truths and innuendo to bolster their arguments in the same way they accused the outraged gun owners of ding. They offered the argument that New Orleans had one of the highest murder rates per capita in the nation. The police and National Guard units did not have any way to determine who might or might not shoot them if they came upon an armed citizen, so they had the right to disarm them all.” 
Culture is Important

The authors point out that gun confiscation was a habit of the New Orleans Police. Such seizures described below are clear violations of the 2nd and 4th Amendment. 
“For years, it has been common practice for traffic and other divisions of NOPD to demand see receipts proving ownership of any guns in the vehicles that were stopped. If receipts could not be produced, the guns would be taken an the owner told he or she could pick it up at the precinct if they could find a receipt proving ownership.
 “This is patently illegal and a violation of Louisiana law, which allows the carrying of firearms in a personal vehicle. In Louisiana, the vehicle is considered an extension of the home, and thus a firearm can be carried loaded or unloaded, concealed or in the open, inside the vehicle.
 “Many people are uncertain of their rights pertaining to firearms ownership. When the poor and minorities have an inherent distrust of the police to begin with, they would allow their guns to be taken with no protest, thus the practice became common, and was almost considered a right by the police in New Orleans. When such a mindset is entrenched, it is a small step across a narrow divide to wholesale confiscation such as occurred in the aftermath of Katrina. Thus was the practice encouraged and accelerated by the hierarchy of command in the New Orleans Police Department.” 
A police officer must have probable cause that a weapon is stolen before attempting to document ownership or determine if the weapon is stolen. Demanding to see receipts, or likewise running a serial number, would constitute and illegal search. Taking it back to the station is an illegal seizure, plain and simple.

No doubt, the culture of NOPD contributed to their actions during the hurricane.

To Some, Confiscation is Unthinkable 
“It’s tough being a firearms enthusiast in today’s culture. There are so many assumptions made about anyone who enjoys shooting and guns, many people actually play down their enthusiasm to avoid being typecast as someone with a lesser intellect. [...] The naysayers and pseudo-intellectuals smile knowingly at gun owners, sneering behind their backs, branding them alarmists, rabble rousers, and ‘gun nuts’[...]To these types, firearms enthusiasts are cartoons; they’re knuckle-dragging, chest-beating, slope-headed Neanderthals.
 “To these people, the danger of gun confiscation, which removes the people’s right to protect themselves against their own government, is a joke that can never happen.” 
No Respect For the Law

After being asked what would happen after another devastating hurricane, New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley said: “‘During circumstances like that, we cannot allow people to walk the streets carrying guns. As law-enforcement officers, we will confiscate the weapon if the person is walking down the street, and they may be arrested.’ In direct contravention of newly minted state law, and reaffirming the actions of the police were illegal in Katrina’s aftermath, the police chief promised they would do it again.”


1. Humans in catastrophic disasters will abandon their normal, socially enforced behaviors while taking advantage of the structure of former social patters and intuitions.

With the situation in New Orleans being about actual, day-to-day survival, social mores against theft, robbery, and personal property went out the window. It was an ‘every man for himself’ attitude for many. Many looters, kept in check by the watchful eyes of society and in fear of the police, acted upon their urges, unrestrained by the former deterrent factors.

This behavior extended to the police, who gave up any pretense of judicial law-and-order policing. From the stories of police murder, desertion, and police engaging in looting, it was clear the department existed in name only. For unknown reasons, police engaged in bizarre thuggery, coupling their ordinary duties with incompatible illegal behavior.

Though the world no longer resembled what it did before the storm and 21st Century American life, law, and justice temporarily vacated New Orleans, the power of the badge still held sway. There could be no reprisals because the police apparatus, though broken, disloyal, and dysfunctional, still existed. If an armed citizen resisted the patently tyrannical abuses of the police, there were plenty more who would kill or arrest that citizen and to continue their usurpation of authority.

2.  Existing police culture will dictate police response in a crisis.

As the authors point out, New Orleans Police already engaged in discriminatory and unconstitutional searches and seizures. At a whim, they could violate two constitutional amendments in one act. When disaster struck, police already felt entitled to take guns away from the citizens because they had done so before without resistance.

Police departments across the nation have been identified as having pervasive patterns of discrimination and other violations of civil rights. New York City is known for its abuse of ‘stop and frisk’, while New Jersey State Troopers were at the center of the ‘driving while black’ controversy. LAPD was placed under a federal consent decree over concerns about use of force against minorities.

Citizens must act before the crisis to ensure that their police will treat citizen’s civil rights with respect both before and after the crisis.

Personally, I believe that most line police officers aren’t really against the right to keep and bear arms, but either misinformed by their superiors or have so much experience with criminals carrying guns, that their brain automatically lumps armed citizens into the ‘bad guy’ category.

3. Paramilitary organizations will follow orders and citizens will generally submit to authorities.

It was a rejected defense in Nuremberg, nonetheless, humans will defer to authority, especially if they are conditioned to it. Since the atrocities of WWII and war crimes in Vietnam, both the military and police have been told to disobey any illegal orders. Yet in the case of the police, it still goes on.

Ever wonder why a cop won’t let you drive up a street that’s been closed due to an emergency or crime? “It’s for your safety.” More often than not, he’s been told that no one is to go up the street and he is not in a position to question his orders. Half the time, he might not even know why he’s doing what he’s been told to do. Maybe it’s a good thing he’s not letting you drive through a raging forest fire or past the crazy guy on his roof with a sniper rifle. Other times, it’s for a vague, poorly thought out reason.

4. ‘Public safety’ will always be the rallying call.

The police likely they argued they were following orders under a mistake of fact (about martial law) in the good of public safety. “If it’s good for the public, then it must be permissible,” the specious logic goes.

The putative goal of gun confiscation was to protect the public from gun violence. A police apologist could argue that the intent was to take guns away from criminals. Yet seizures targeted people who refused to evacuate, critics of Mayor Ray Nagin and Gov. Blanco, and law-abiding citizens. Anecdotes show this to be the case time and time again.

While the police were taking guns from the ‘good guys’, they were not protecting the public. Crime was rampant. Neighborhoods organized militias and home and business owners kept armed watch. The National Guard even withdrew from their checkpoints after nightfall. The police took away the public’s self-defense ability while unable or unwilling to provide police protection.

5. Mission creep is a big deal.

Most cops actually care about public safety. They don’t throw in the towel after their first shift directing traffic in a cold rainstorm. Cops want to put the bad guys in jail.

The problem is that like any job, the actual goals are subordinated by the daily work. Protecting the public is done by writing up traffic violations and arresting people. It’s easy to see things as tickets that need written and looking for a felony arrest to make yourself look good to the sergeant.

Think of your job, especially something that deals with people in bad situations. You try to help, but soon everyone is just a name or number and just another problem. You want to do whatever needs to be done to make them leave you alone. It’s the day to day clouds that obscure the horizon of our true purpose at work.

Giving the NOPD cops the benefit of the doubt, they were trying to make things safer. More bad logic: Gun violence problem? Get rid of the guns. Too hard to take guns from the bad guys? Take them from the good guys; good guns make easy victims.

The Future

I highly doubt a majority of American law enforcement would cooperate with a nationwide gun confiscation. First, most cops respect the constitution and the right to self-defense, even though their-day-to day policing can suffer from tunnel vision. Second, the fear of an armed rebellion and guerrilla war is a major deterrent.

Isolated incidents will occur, but in the majority of major catastrophes in America, this is an outlying event. Nothing remotely like this happened in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Andrew, 9/11, Northridge Earthquake, or even to the Koreans famous for defending their businesses during the LA riots.

What happened in New Orleans was a perfect storm, pardon the pun. A corrupt, unethical police department was presiding over absolute chaos and the powers that be felt they had to contain the violence by any means. The rotten police culture, the pervasive pattern of gun confiscations pre-Katrina, the shock of the event, the collapse of organized society, day-to-day survival, and misconceptions about martial law all combined to create the atmosphere of tyranny.

In New York and Connecticut, nothing has happened, despite huge numbers of non-compliant gun owners. Politically, it is dangerous and many of the line officers wouldn’t go along with the scheme.

Could it happen again or nationwide? Yes, but the above conditions would probably need to be met. Nationally, a cadre committed to disarmament and willing to risk casualties could make effective strides in confiscation.

The most dangerous thing of all is a culture shift that would make gun owners out to be the bad guys and any police action against them seem justified. 

Background Check Flowcharts: Which Would You Prefer

Bloomberg's 'Universal Background Check' petition is coming to Nevada in 2016. Which system would you prefer? 

And the confusing web that Bloomberg is trying to bring us:

Vote no to more background checks. Learn more at

Thursday, May 28, 2015

An Intro to Open Carry

For current information, click the link to be redirected to the Open Carry page at

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Can you open carry in a Clark County park?

Update: This post is now partly anachronistic. Enhanced preemption went into effect 6/2/2015. Park Police are aware that their ban has been declared null and void. Carry with caution for now. 
  • Clark County Parks believes it is illegal to have a gun in the park and will enforce their regulation, based on abstruse legal reasoning.
  • The Cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas have laws on the books, but are not too zealous in enforcement.
  • Henderson totally allows guns in city parks and the same is believed for Mesquite and Boulder City.
  • State parks are gun friendly (just no concealed carry where posted, but open carry okay).
  • The preemption bills SB 175 and SB 240 have invalidated the park ban on firearms. 
The Clark County Park Police, enemy of the right to bear arms

The Clark County Code prohibits open or concealed carry of firearms in parks. Mere possession of a firearm in the park (say in your car, is technically prohibited). These park rules are authorized pursuant to ordinance 19.04.060 gives the county commissioners authority to create park rules.

Warning: Be prepared to be confused!

Oddly enough, the Clark County Shooting Park Complex was renamed to avoid it being a 'park' and thus prohibit a shooting range. Incidentally, the 2007 change to NRS 244.364 allowing non-residents 60 days to register their handguns was to eliminate a technicality that would make competitors and tourists coming to Vegas to shoot at the Complex technical violators of the registration ordinance, which was also amended.

The conflict is with state preemption laws which prohibit countiescities, and towns from creating their own gun regulations. Where this gets confusing and legalistic is that Clark County used its influence to get a special carve out for its handgun registration program (‘blue cards’). The state law is quite clear. Only the handgun registration program is legal; all other laws, such as North Las Vegas’ guns-in-cars law is illegal and unenforceable, despite still being ‘on the books.’

The only other provision for local municipalities to make their own firearm regulations is regarding unsafe discharge (shooting) of firearms. Obviously, no one would rationally object to prohibiting shooting in local parks, save for the gang members and drug dealers’ lobbyists.

 NRS 244.364 Limited authority to regulate firearms; restrictions concerning registration of certain firearms in county whose population is 700,000 or more.
            1. Except as otherwise provided by specific statute, the Legislature reserves for itself such rights and powers as are necessary to regulate the transfer, sale, purchase, possession, ownership, transportation, registration and licensing of firearms and ammunition in Nevada, and no county may infringe upon those rights and powers. As used in this subsection, “firearm” means any weapon from which a projectile is discharged by means of an explosive, spring, gas, air or other force.
            2. A board of county commissioners may proscribe by ordinance or regulation the unsafe discharge of firearms.
            3. If a board of county commissioners in a county whose population is 700,000 or more has required by ordinance or regulation adopted before June 13, 1989, the registration of a firearm capable of being concealed [emphasis added], the board of county commissioners shall amend such an ordinance or regulation to require:
            (a) A period of at least 60 days of residency in the county before registration of such a firearm is required.
            (b) A period of at least 72 hours for the registration of a pistol by a resident of the county upon transfer of title to the pistol to the resident by purchase, gift or any other transfer.
            4. [omitted]

Nowhere is the authority to regulate possession of guns in parks permitted in that section or anywhere else in the entire Nevada Revised Statutes.

On the park police website.

The Complicit Attorney General

In 2010, Attorney General gave a pretty tortured interpretation in this opinion of how the exemption for Clark County’s handgun registration ordinance somehow means that the park district can make its own firearm regulations.

David Roger, then Clark County District Attorney, requested Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto’s legal opinion of the legality of the guns-in-park prohibition. As a Democrat, Cortez-Masto unsurprisingly sided against gun owners and with government control by using absurd reasoning to justify the ‘legality’ of the regulation. 
“A review of the language contained in NRS 244.364(1) indicates that the Nevada Legislature intended to preempt the entire field of firearm regulation, absent its one exception for the unsafe discharge of firearms. NRS 244.364(2). When the Legislature adopts a general scheme for the regulation of a particular subject, local control over the same subject ceases. […] Therefore, a county may not enforce regulations which are in conflict with the Legislature’s mandate.” 
“Your office also suggests that the legislative history discloses that the Legislature
did not intend to preempt local ordinances concerning the carrying, possessing, and
discharging of firearms. A review of the legislative history shows otherwise. In a letter
dated February 17, 1989, Attorney General McKay responds to the following questions
posed by Assemblyman Dini:

The opinion quotes a letter dated February 17, 1989 from Attorney General McKay regarding the original preemption bill. 
“This statute [A.B. 147] would preempt for state regulation all forms of governmental regulation involving firearms and ammunition in Nevada, with one exception. That exception allows cities, counties, and towns to proscribe by ordinance or regulation the unsafe discharge of firearms.
 “A.B. 147 would not repeal or make ineffective any state statutes, but would invalidate any local ordinances or regulations on this subject since all aspects of the possession of firearms and ammunition in Nevada would be preempted for state regulation if A.B. 147 becomes law.” 
Cortez-Masto then concludes that: 
“Discharge ordinances are explicitly permitted by NRS 244.364(2); however, regulations concerning possession are not. The Office of the Attorney General has also interpreted NRS 244.364 in a 1995 Opinion and has stated, 'regarding control of firearms, NRS 244.364 clearly states that counties may regulate only the unsafe discharge of firearms, and that “no county may infringe upon' the power of the legislature to regulate, inter alia, the sale and possession of firearms.” 
After all of this, Cortez-Masto basically ignores all of it and states that the grandfather clause in
Section 5 of the original 1989 preemption bill, stated that "The provisions of this act apply only to ordinances or regulations adopted on or after the effective date of this act." In 1989, the no-guns-in-parks rule would have been legal because it was approved in 1981, however, any ‘grandfather clause’ protection would have logically ended with the language of the 2007 amendment to the statute.

Cortez-Masto’s Twisted Logic

Existing regulations, as stated above, permit only Clark County’s handgun registration scheme. Section 5 was deleted. As far as existing regulations go, the current form of NRS. 244.364, Section 3, states the only grandfathered regulations are ones “adopted before June 13, 1989, the registration of a firearm capable of being concealed [emphasis added].”

As far the 2007 amendment[1] is concerned, which changed the language to allow specifically only handgun registration, Cortez-Masto said "The grandfather provision was not altered in this regard by subsequent amendment." Her argument is that even though the statute was changed by the legislature and despite the only allowance for existing laws was handgun registration, the deleted grandfather clause from 1989 still allowed for police to enforce the no-guns-in-parks rule.

Cortez-Masto concludes that: “Although Clark County does not have the authority to adopt or enact new local ordinances or regulations that are preempted by NRS 244.364(1), the ordinances or regulations grandfathered by A.B. 147 still remain in effect today.”[2] Her main argument was footnote in the hard-copy (not online) edition of the published bills where the reviewer said that pre-1989 laws were still enforceable.

In plain English, Cortez-Masto is saying that because the original regulation was adopted before the 1989 preemption bill, the original (since altered) language of the 1989 bill allows them to continue to enforce this law because the 2007 revision didn’t explicitly say that municipal regulations to the contrary were henceforth illegal.

So because the district attorney didn’t want the law ruled illegal in 2010 and the attorney general was complicit in this, she decided the law was what Clark County wanted it to be.

Still, Sections 4 and 5 of 2007’s SB92 confuse me and I wonder why they don’t apply, as well as Cortez-Masto’s footnotes. Perhaps an attorney or judge in the audience can help interpret?[3]

Legal in Other Cities

The city of Henderson, in response to a particular dedicated member of the open carry movement in Nevada, managed to get the city to acknowledge that preemption under NRS 268.418 did in fact apply to parks and city buildings. The signage at the parks was changed and the city code to remove any reference to firearms being prohibited.

Henderson parks are totally gun-friendly for both open and concealed carry.

As of this writing, the Boulder City park website is down so I cannot confirm, but there are no such restrictions in Mesquite city parks.

The city of North Las Vegas’ park regulations still prohibit taking a gun into a park, but I have not heard of any recent enforcement.

The city of Las Vegas is a bit confusing. Basically, it says that concealed carry by permittees is legal and that legal possession (under state law) is legal. So since open carry isn’t mentioned at all by state law (and therefore perfectly legal), these ordinance could be construed any which way.

Firearms, archery equipment or other weapons of any kind, except as otherwise provided in Subsection (D);
D. The prohibition set forth in Paragraph (6) of Subsection (A) shall not apply to:
            (1) Activities specifically approved under this Chapter in connection with a particular event;
            (2) The possession of firearms that is otherwise permitted by State law; or
            (3) The possession of a concealed weapon by a person who holds a valid permit to do so that has been issued under, or is recognized pursuant to, the provisions of NRS 202.3653 to 202.369.

I have heard of a few stories of persons who were accosted by police in Las Vegas parks for open carrying. One was cited and his gun confiscated, using the rationale that he didn’t have a concealed firearm permit, though he wasn’t concealing, and the oft abused line of not having a blue card on him to verify he owned the gun he carried. When he protested, his gun was returned the next day and the charge dropped before any court appearance was made.

Using Cortez-Masto's above logic where an unaltered ordinance/regulation adopted before 1989 means that the regulation is grandfathered, the alteration to the city of Las Vegas regulations a few years ago would theoretically remove their grandfathering clause. I'm not a legal expert, but I don't think that Cortez-Masto's argument would hold up in court, and legal realities aside, the police reality is that if the officer wants to abuse his authority under the city's interpretation of law, the officer will.


Open carry or legal concealed carry in public parks is perfectly legal. The questions are, will the police harass you and do you want to be a test case? A polite, respectful person open carrying can probably go totally unnoticed if they don’t draw attention to themselves or the fact that they are carrying. Sadly to say, race, age, and appearance are all factors in whether or not the police may choose to selectively enforce a law.

The politically correct park police have this handy guide to park safety, which encourages you to wear reflective clothing and carry a whistle. Why yes, I’m sure a whistle will stop that robber or rapist. Ironically enough, this was a police chief’s ‘best advice’ back in the 1920s. Chief Koening of the Sacramento Police said: “Often when applications are made to me for permission to carry a gun I advise the applicants to buy a police whistle; blowing a police whistle is more protection to the citizen than a gun.” The modern park police also recommend carrying a cell phone.

So what can you do? Well, the good news is that unless SB 175 and SB 240 are vetoed by the governor, any such regulations will be made null and void. So Clark County can kiss its wacky Cortez-Masto grandfather clause good-bye. In addition, the county commissioners and city councils must repeal the contrary ordinances. Anyone who is aggrieved by unlawful enforcement after October 1st is entitled to sue for up to treble damages. So contact the governor to show your support for these bills!

Phone: (775) 684-5670 or (702) 486-2500

[1] Since the opinion was published in 2010, the preemption bill was amended in 2011 (a non-substantive change to raise the population of the affected municipalities).  
[2] Interestingly, in 2012, the City of Las Vegas changed its park regulation ordinances which, under Cortez-Masto’s logic, would remove their bogus grandfather-clause protection.
[3] SB 92 (2007) text of Sections 4 and 5:
Sec. 4. Section 5 of chapter 308, Statutes of Nevada 1989, at page 653, is hereby amended to read as follows:
Sec. 5. [The]
1. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, the provisions of this act apply [only] to ordinances or
regulations adopted on or after [the effective date of this act.] June 13, 1989.
2. The provisions of this act, as amended on October 1, 2007, apply to ordinances or regulations adopted before, on or after June 13, 1989.
Sec. 5. A board of county commissioners, governing body of a city and town board in a county whose population is 400,000 or more shall amend any ordinance or regulation adopted by that body before June 13, 1989, that does not conform with the provisions of NRS 244.364, as amended by section 1 of this act, NRS 268.418, as amended by section 2 of this act or NRS 269.222, as amended by section 3 of this act, as applicable, by January 1, 2008. Any
ordinance or regulation that does not comply with the applicable provision by January 1, 2008, shall be deemed to conform with that provision by operation of law. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Blue Card Results!

Way back in February, I contacted LVMPD to obtain a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on blue card (handgun registration) data. I wanted to know if the system worked to cut down on gun crime. After a long, drawn out battle to get Metro to comply with the law, I finally got a lack-luster response. Basically, the ordinances requiring handgun registration are a paper tiger.

Metro failed to respond to my first request in February. In March, I finally got a reply that said they would work on it and five days later, I got a reply that said essentially “Give us a month to figure it out.” A month came and went, no reply. Then the PIO told me he was working on it. I got fed up with the bureaucratic mess and filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit. I also sent an email basically demanding that Metro reply and I accused them of stonewalling.

Amazingly, Officer Roybal, a PIO, came through. Though the responses were moving at the speed of bureaucracy, Officer Roybal was pretty pleasant and cool to deal with. I allege that Metro as an institution would be content to ignore my request. If it wasn’t for my regular emails pursuing this, I doubt I would have received an answer at all.

Despite getting an answer from Metro, my complaint still stands. There is no excuse for Metro’s ignorance of my request and the glacial pacing of obtaining this information. Once the AG’s office processes my complaint, I will ask them to investigate why this took so long for Metro comply with my request and determine if there was any wrong-doing.

Ignoring a first request and then taking over 30 days for a simple database query for numbers is rather ridiculous. From my law enforcement days, it would have taken me about an hour run similar statistics, and maybe a day or two if I had to ask one of the crime analysts for help.

The Stats

How many handguns are registered?

Estimated number of guns registered (total) 1,379,250. Note: these are the numbers of registrations (blue cards), as Metro lack the technology to track weapons which have changed hands.

How many guns were solved using the gun registration database? Metro doesn't track that information. Metro says that the gun registration database is a great investigative tool. Then why don’t they track how many violent crimes are solved or lead to arrests through use of the database?

Arrests (bookings) for possession of an unregistered firearm:

2010    107
2011    87
2012    62
2013    43
2014    41
2014    12 (YTD)

There has been a precipitous decline in unregistered gun arrests in the past years, while gun sales have climbed.

One can draw their own conclusions, but Metro appears to be an agency that doesn’t like the Nevada Open Records Act and its handgun registration system is little more than a filing system.

-G. C.