The town of Guntersville, Alabama is the kind of place you normally never hear about. I mean, the town boasts a population of just over 8,000 folks. A booming metropolis, it isn’t. However, it’s making headlines due to a controversial proposal that would permit police to disarm citizens during disaster situations.
The proposal is one of many measures that the town is considering as part of its disaster preparedness plan. Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth by gun rights advocates, it doesn’t say anything about an outright plan to confiscate all guns. However, the text as its reported offers plenty to be concerned about as it is:
“As provided by Alabama State Code, any law enforcement officers acting in official duties may disarm and individual if deemed necessary. The officer must return the firearm to the individual before leaving or [arresting] the individual.”
The worrisome part is the “if deemed necessary” provision. The vague language opens up plenty of opportunities for abuse. After all, under what circumstances would it be necessary?
The law, despite what some alleged news sources have reported, does specify that the guns should be returned prior to the officer leaving the scene…or if the person is arrested. That doesn’t absolve Guntersville officials from the justly deserved scorn they’re receiving.
“It seems like an infringement on the 2nd Amendment, and that’s the biggest problem I have with it,” local music teacher Paul Landry said.
Keith Sullivan, another local resident, added: “The law’s already there. Somebody’s brandishing a weapon, you can arrest them right there.”
Both of these men are absolutely correct. You see, a holstered weapon isn’t a danger to anyone, but the law doesn’t specify that a weapon needs to be drawn or anything else. A lawfully carried firearm in a holster can be taken if an officer feels it’s “necessary”, even if there is no danger to a living soul.
Mr. Sullivan is right that someone brandishing a weapon is already in violation of the law. Why then, would officials need another law? Unfortunately, politicians often create both redundant and unnecessary laws in the name of being “proactive.” For the record, that never works out as planned.
The truth of the matter is that Mayor Leigh Dollar is probably legitimately trying do just what she meant when she said, “This is in there to protect public workers and any volunteers helping should someone become unruly, which can happen because emotions are high…” She’s not trying to overturn the United States Constitution or any other laws. However, good intentions doesn’t stop the fact that she’s overstepping the proper role of any government in her efforts.
Some have tried to compare this proposal to the widespread gun confiscation following Hurricane Katrina. It stands to reason, since we’re talking about taking away someone’s gun after a disaster. However, that’s also where the similarities end. You see, in the wake of Katrina, many guns were confiscated. They were taken away, and many still haven’t been returned. What Mayor Dollar is talking about is akin to a cop taking a gun during a traffic stop and returning it before sending the driver on their way. Sure, it’s still not right, but let’s not pretend it’s something more than it really is.