Thursday, April 03, 2008

Rep. Marc Keahey & HB339

All day today I listened to the House Audio. I mainly wanted to hear the debate on HB723. It never came up because the legislature decided to call it a day around 3 and take off early. Gee, that must be nice.

However, another interesting bill HB339 sponsored by Rep. Marc Keahey (D - Dist. 65) came up for debate.

The debate centered around the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina where law abiding citizen's who owned guns legally were disarmed by government. The criminals running around robbing people and looting were not disarmed because, well because they are criminals and, since they did not have the guns legally they damn sure weren't going to run over to the police station and turn them in.

Rep. Keahey's bill says the following;
Under existing law, the Governor and local political subdivisions are granted additional emergency powers during states of emergency.
This bill would specify that these powers do not authorize the seizure or confiscation of firearms or ammunition from persons lawfully authorized to possess them and would specify certain conditions when a law enforcement officer may disarm an individual.

In my opinion, that's a damn good bill. It says that in the event of a state of emergency the government cannot disarm me if I own my guns legally. It says that I have the right to protect my family without having to wait on police to get there. And that is how things ought to be.

After listening to Rep. Yusaf Salaam ramble on incoherently about whether or not the Constitution means what it says, about whether or not the governor/mayor/police should ever have the right to take firearms from a law abiding citizen, and other such outrageous stuff I kept thinking, "If I were having to stand there and listen to that crap I might lose all appearances of respect for some of my fellow legislators." My Irish temper would surely get the best of me.

Rep. Salaam kept asking Rep. Keahey if he could not think of one situation where the governor/mayor/police ought to have those powers. I can't and Rep. Keahey couldn't...yet Salaam was never asked to provide us with his own example of a situation where the aforementioned should have the right to disarm law abiding citizens. I thought he should have had to offer up a scenario, since he was so in favor of the government being allowed to take folks guns away. Had I been standing there I would have asked him for one.

In my opinion, the Constitution means exactly what it says. Period! Also, in my opinion, there is never any reason for the governor/police/mayor to take my firearm, as long as I own my gun legally and am not threatening anyone that doesn't need threatening (read = that isn't threatening me). What possible grounds could they have to take it?

At one point Rep. Mike Ball introduced an amendment that left the choice to take away a weapon from someone who is NOT under arrest to the 'discretion of the police.' As if the 'police' supercede the Second Amendment (Y'all better sharpen the pitchforks). Originally that amendment passed until the Speaker Pro Tem pointed out that leaving it up to police discretion completely castrated the bill (bless'im). They took a re-vote and it came out on the right side. 'WHEW!'

Then Rep. Ball brought up domestic situations, which was completely irrelevant because this bill only dealt with times of extreme emergency. Apparently, Rep. Ball thinks cops ought to be able to take people's guns and keep them even if no arrest has been made and no laws have been broken. I find that not only scary and unconstitutional but down right offensive. He thinks it should be ok for cops to take people's guns for hypothetical crimes they might commit with them. That is unacceptable. Under that kind of mindset everyone's guns could be taken because they may at some point in the future commit a crime using said gun. Minority Report anyone?

What protections are in place that arms will be returned to citizens once we give them up? I don't know bout' y'all, but I don't trust any government official any further than I could throw them. Once disarmed then the government has ALL THE POWER and ALL THE GUNS! Guess what happens next? You no longer have the power to negotiate and Democracy becomes Tyranny by a government that no longer has any reason at all to fear you.

I was very happy to hear many Black legislators rise in support of the original bill. One (I don't remember which one) said, "This bill means that in the event of an emergency I still retain the right to protect my property and family...that I don't have to wait on a police force that is probably stretched very thin to come to my rescue." Another mentioned that it wasn't all that long ago that Black citizens were prevented from owning firearms and that he wasn't about to give his up to the government.

However, the things I heard from folks like Rep. Yusaf Salaam and Rep. Mike Ball made me question whether or not I have the temperament to ever be a legislator. I think my bullshit tolerance is probably a tad low. I don't particularly want to raise it as I think a very low bullshit tolerance helps to keep it I'll have to come up with some other solution to this problem.

The bill was finally carried over to next Tuesday because people like Ball and Salaam kept adding amendments that repeatedly got voted down. other words....which coulda lasted all night.

I hope that Rep. Keahey stands strong and that this bill passes in its original form. We don't need any law that says "Only the government has the legal right to protect you." Considering what befell the citizens of New Orleans when they waited on government help after Katrina I find it downright absurd that any reasonable person would ask us to 'trust the government' for our protection.


KentAllard said...

"To the discretion of the police officers." Pardon my French but Merde! What gives them the frickin' right to decide if I can keep a gun? I had my first haircut in a year a week ago, and something tells me the cops would be more likely to let the short-haired me keep my property than the long-haired me.

Loretta Nall said...

Nothing gives them the right to decide whether a law abiding, legal-gun-owning citizen has the right to keep and bear arms. The Constitution is where that right comes from and it is pretty damn clear! The blood of every American soldier who ever died in combat attests to that.

I gotta tell you that to hear Democrats introduce and speak for this bill VERY STRONGLY and some Republicans speak AGAINST it....I guess waking up and finding oneself on a different planet probably couldn't feel much weirder.

Loretta Nall said...

Here is a list of those involved in the HB339 debate

HB339 Third Reading Carried Over
Judiciary first Substitute Offered
Motion to Adopt adopted Roll Call 686
Fite Amendment Offered
Keahey motion to Table adopted Roll Call 687
Ball Amendment Offered
Motion to Adopt adopted Roll Call 688
Page Motion to reconsider adopted Voice Vote
Keahey motion to Table adopted Roll Call 689
Salaam Amendment Offered
Keahey motion to Table adopted Roll Call 690
Keahey Amendment Offered
Motion to Adopt adopted Roll Call 691
Sherer Amendment Offered
Keahey motion to Table lost Roll Call 692
Motion to Adopt adopted Roll Call 693
Galliher motion to reconsider adopted Roll Call 693
Motion to Carry Over Temporarily adopted Voice Vote

Jeremy said...

I emailed then spoke with Representative Ball after reading this this morning. After doing so, I don't think his amendment has been characterized quite accurately. His amendment doesn't call for the wholesale seizure of personally owned weapons, but reinforces existing laws regarding law enforcement's responsibility to address individual situations that might arise.

An example he gave me was of law enforcement disarming a distraught or unstable individual and holding their weapon(s), but not arresting the individual because the situation did not warrant arrest. The person's record stays clean of the incident and the situation is diffused.

I can support that sort of action and do not see it as a violation of the Second Amendment. I don't think his amendment was targeting the disarming of a population en masse.

Loretta Nall said...

Hi Jeremy,

Thank you for contacting Rep. Ball for clarification. However, what I said Rep. Ball said and what he said he said is not different.

He said he wanted to amend the bill to say that cops could take away people's guns based on a cops determination of 'mentally unstable' or 'drunk'. In other words he wants cops to be 'trusted' who can keep their guns and who can't. That is unacceptable.

Neither being mentally unstable (how would a cop know really?) nor being drunk is against the law. If no laws have been broken then the police have NO RIGHT to take a weapon away from a legal gun owner. Period!

Alabama Constitution Article I, Section 26

That the great, general and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established, we declare... That every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.

Darryl W. Perry said...

I would guess that Rep. Ball hasn't read the Alabama Constitution. But, who can blame him, its only the longest existing Constitution, and has been amended more times than document in human history.