DISASTER RECOVERY PERSONAL PROTECTION ACT OF 2006; Congressional Record Vol. 152, No. 99
(House of Representatives - July 25, 2006)

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[Pages H5755-H5761]
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           DISASTER RECOVERY PERSONAL PROTECTION ACT OF 2006

  Mr. KUHL of New York. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and 
pass the bill (H.R. 5013) to amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster 
Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to prohibit the confiscation of 
firearms during certain national emergencies, as amended.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                               H.R. 5013

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Disaster Recovery Personal 
     Protection Act of 2006''.

     SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

       Congress finds the following:
       (1) The Second Amendment to the Constitution states that a 
     ``well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of 
     a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, 
     shall not be infringed'', and Congress has repeatedly 
     recognized this language as protecting an individual right.
       (2) In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, State and local law 
     enforcement and public safety service organizations were 
     overwhelmed and could not fulfill the safety needs of the 
     citizens of the State of Louisiana.
       (3) In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the safety of these 
     citizens, and of their homes and property, was threatened by 
     instances of criminal activity.
       (4) Many of these citizens lawfully kept firearms for the 
     safety of themselves, their loved ones, their businesses, and 
     their property, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment, and 
     used their firearms, individually or in concert with their 
     neighbors, for protection against crime.
       (5) In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, certain agencies 
     confiscated the firearms of these citizens in contravention 
     of the Second Amendment, depriving these citizens of the 
     right to keep and bear arms and rendering them helpless 
     against criminal activity.
       (6) These confiscations were carried out at gunpoint by 
     nonconsensual entries into private homes, by traffic 
     checkpoints, by stoppage of boats, and otherwise by force.
       (7) The citizens from whom firearms were confiscated were 
     either in their own homes or attempting to flee the flooding 
     and devastation by means of motor vehicle or boat, and were 
     accosted, stopped, and arbitrarily deprived of their private 
     property and means of protection.
       (8) The means by which the confiscations were carried out, 
     which included intrusion into the home, temporary detention 
     of persons, and seizures of property, constituted 
     unreasonable searches and seizures and deprived these 
     citizens of liberty and property without due process of law 
     in violation of fundamental rights under the Constitution.
       (9) Many citizens who took temporary refuge in emergency 
     housing were prohibited from storing firearms on the 
     premises, and were thus treated as second-class citizens who 
     had forfeited their constitutional right to keep and bear 
     arms.
       (10) At least one highly-qualified search and rescue team 
     was prevented from joining in relief efforts because the team 
     included individuals with firearms, although these 
     individuals had been deputized as Federal law enforcement 
     officers.
       (11) These confiscations and prohibitions, and the means by 
     which they were carried out, deprived the citizens of 
     Louisiana not only of their right to keep and bear arms, but 
     also of their rights to personal security, personal liberty, 
     and private property, all in violation of the Constitution 
     and laws of the United States.

     SEC. 3. PROHIBITION ON CONFISCATION OF FIREARMS DURING 
                   CERTAIN NATIONAL EMERGENCIES.

       Title VII of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and 
     Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5201) is amended by 
     adding at the end the following:

     ``SEC. 706. FIREARMS POLICIES.

       ``(a) Prohibition on Confiscation of Firearms.--No officer 
     or employee of the United States (including any member of the 
     uniformed services), or person operating pursuant to or under 
     color of Federal law, or receiving Federal funds, or under 
     control of

[[Page H5756]]

     any Federal official, or providing services to such an 
     officer, employee, or other person, while acting in support 
     of relief from a major disaster or emergency, may--
       ``(1) temporarily or permanently seize, or authorize 
     seizure of, any firearm the possession of which is not 
     prohibited under Federal, State, or local law, other than for 
     forfeiture in compliance with Federal law or as evidence in a 
     criminal investigation;
       ``(2) require registration of any firearm for which 
     registration is not required by Federal, State, or local law;
       ``(3) prohibit possession of any firearm, or promulgate any 
     rule, regulation, or order prohibiting possession of any 
     firearm, in any place or by any person where such possession 
     is not otherwise prohibited by Federal, State, or local law; 
     or
       ``(4) prohibit the carrying of firearms by any person 
     otherwise authorized to carry firearms under Federal, State, 
     or local law, solely because such person is operating under 
     the direction, control, or supervision of a Federal agency in 
     support of relief from the major disaster or emergency.
       ``(b) Limitation.--Nothing in this section shall be 
     construed to prohibit any person from requiring the temporary 
     surrender of a firearm as a condition for entry into any mode 
     of transportation used for rescue or evacuation during a 
     major disaster or emergency.
       ``(c) Private Rights of Action.--
       ``(1) In general.--Any individual aggrieved by a violation 
     of this section may seek relief in an action at law, suit in 
     equity, or other proper proceeding for redress against any 
     person who subjects such individual, or causes such 
     individual to be subjected, to the deprivation of any of the 
     rights, privileges, or immunities secured by this section.
       ``(2) Remedies.--In addition to any existing remedy in law 
     or equity, under any law, an individual aggrieved by the 
     seizure or confiscation of a firearm in violation of this 
     section may bring an action for return of such firearm in the 
     United States district court in the district in which that 
     individual resides or in which such firearm may be found.
       ``(3) Attorney fees.--In any action or proceeding to 
     enforce this section, the court shall award the prevailing 
     party, other than the United States, a reasonable attorney's 
     fee as part of the costs.''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Kuhl) and the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Corrine Brown) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New York.


                             General Leave

  Mr. KUHL of New York. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their 
remarks and include extraneous materials on H.R. 5013, as amended.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from New York?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. KUHL of New York. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, State and local enforcement and 
public safety service organizations were overwhelmed, and many citizens 
felt threatened. Many of these citizens lawfully kept firearms for the 
safety of themselves, their loved ones, their businesses, and their 
property as guaranteed to them by the second amendment, and used their 
firearms for protection against crime.
  Following the hurricane, certain agencies confiscated the firearms of 
these law-abiding citizens, rendering them helpless against criminal 
activity. H.R. 5013, the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 
2006, was introduced by Representative Jindal on March 28, 2006. I am a 
proud cosponsor of this bill which amends the Robert T. Stafford 
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to prohibit the 
confiscation of lawfully possessed firearms by an individual operating 
under the color of Federal law while acting in support of a major 
disaster or emergency declaration, unless the confiscation is otherwise 
permitted by law.
  This bill ensures that law-abiding citizens can continue to protect 
themselves, their loved ones, their businesses, and their property as 
guaranteed by the second amendment during disasters when law 
enforcement is most likely to be overwhelmed and unable to fulfill the 
safety needs of the citizens they serve. It prevents agencies from 
arbitrarily depriving law-abiding citizens of their private property 
and means of protecting themselves during a disaster.
  Additionally, this bill clarifies that an individual may require the 
temporary surrender of firearms as a condition for entry into any mode 
of transportation used for rescue or evacuation during a disaster or 
emergency. For example, rescuers such as the Coast Guard can require 
the surrender of guns before an individual enters their vessel.
  In short, this bill provides some commonsense limitation on the 
wholesale confiscation of guns during disasters without limiting the 
enforcement of local, state, or Federal laws.
  Madam Speaker, I support this measure and urge my colleagues to do 
the same.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. CORRINE BROWN of Florida. Madam Speaker, I yield to Mr. Nadler 
from New York such time as he may consume.
  Mr. NADLER. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.
  Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 5013, the so-called 
Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006. There is really only 
one word to describe this bill: Insane. The proper title of this bill 
should be The Right to Sue Cops and National Guardsmen Act of 2006.
  The premise of the bill is that following Hurricane Katrina, and 
possibility other disasters, law enforcement personnel illegally seized 
guns from people who had legal permits to own a gun.

                              {time}  1445

  In some cases, they may have been seized because law enforcement did 
not want guns inside a public shelter. In other cases, people evacuated 
and left guns behind, and the police collected these guns so they would 
not fall into the hands of looters.
  The NRA claimed this was illegal and sued the New Orleans Police 
Department. The New Orleans Police Department stated it had to 
determine who were the rightful owners of the guns before they could 
return them. I believe the lawsuit has since been settled, and the guns 
are being returned to their rightful owners.
  Yet, today, we are considering a bill that would ostensibly solve 
this so-called problem of guns being illegally seized following a 
disaster. Since the lawsuit arises from this issue that has been 
resolved, I do not see why the legislation is necessary.
  But how does this bill solve the supposed problem? It actually 
creates a private right of action for gun owners to sue personally 
cops, National Guardsmen, FBI officers, and other law enforcement 
personnel who are simply carrying out their jobs following a disaster 
or emergency situation.
  The bill says that no Federal employer officer, including the 
military, National Guardsmen, or any person connected to the Federal 
Government, such as members of police departments, local police 
departments, that receive Federal funding, or anyone acting in support 
of relief to a major disaster or emergency, may seize any firearm which 
is allowed under Federal or local law. If they do seize such a gun, it 
would allow a gun owner to sue a cop or National Guardsman personally, 
not the government, sue the cop personally, even if the officer was 
carrying out his official duties. And the gun owner can even recover 
attorneys fees.
  Aside from the fact that the entire premise of the bill is 
ridiculous, there are a number of serious problems with the 
legislation.
  First, the presumption is all in favor of the gun owner and not the 
cop. There is no requirement that the gun owner prove the gun is legal 
at the time it is seized. So, if a cop sees someone with a gun, he has 
no evidence of his right to have a gun, maybe the cop suspects he was a 
looter, if the cop takes the gun, he is personally liable if it turns 
out he had a legal right to it later. Also, if a cop finds a gun on the 
floor or in a store or in a home and takes it to prevent it from 
getting into the hands of looters, that cop can now be sued. So let us 
leave the guns lying around for the looters to pick up and shoot people 
with.
  Second, if this bill passes, Federal response officials and aid 
workers, such as the Red Cross, would have no say where guns are 
carried. They could not prohibit guns in public shelters where kids are 
present, nor could they prevent armed gangs and vigilantes from showing 
up and wandering the streets with guns. Private volunteers with guns 
can show up in any disaster situation, and law enforcement would have 
no say.

[[Page H5757]]

  Third, the bill applies to a ``major disaster or emergency,'' which 
includes a terrorist attack. So if the New York Police Department 
responds at the World Trade Center, or the military responds to an 
attack at the Pentagon, and there is a group of guys with guns, law 
enforcement cannot disarm them without risking being sued. Why would we 
want to tie the hands of the military responding to a terrorist attack?
  This bill has a chilling effect on law enforcement responding to a 
major disaster or to a terrorist attack. If law enforcement illegally 
seizes firearms, or seizes firearms that turn out to be legally owned, 
even though they have no reason to believe they are at the time, 
aggrieved parties already have the right to sue, as was the case when 
the NRA sued the NOPD. I should restate that. If law enforcement 
illegally seizes firearms, aggrieved parties today can sue, as was the 
case when the NRA sued the New Orleans Police Department. The only 
reason for this bill, to give an additional right, seems to be 
vindictive, to force some poor police officer or National Guardsman 
doing his job into bankruptcy.
  If there really is a problem, this legislation is not the way to fix 
it. It is too broad, it is poorly drafted, and it will create more 
dangers in times of major disasters.
  That is why the International Brotherhood of Police Officers and the 
Violence Policy Center have expressed opposition to this bill. I also 
have a letter in opposition from the Major Cities Chiefs Association, 
which represent 57 major law enforcement organizations. I urge my 
colleagues to oppose the bill.

                                              Major Cities Chiefs,


                                      Office of the President,

                                                    June 19, 2006.
     Re H.R. 5013 and S. 2599, the ``Disaster Recovery Personal 
         Protection Act of 2006.''

     United States Congress,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Legislator: The Major Cities Chiefs (MCC) Association 
     represents fifty-seven (57) major law enforcement 
     organizations in the United States and Canada who are located 
     in a metropolitan area of more than 1.5 million population 
     and employ more than 1,000 law enforcement officers. All our 
     officers are actively engaged in providing law enforcement, 
     public safety and homeland security to the citizens of our 
     communities every day. We are writing in opposition to H.R. 
     5013 and S. 2599, the ``Disaster Recovery Personal Protection 
     Act of 2006.''
       As law enforcement professionals, we understand and 
     acknowledge the Constitutional limitations on police power to 
     confiscate personal property. These limitations, however, 
     must be balanced with the need to maintain public safety and 
     security during emergency situations. We are concerned that 
     the bill would void local laws that guide police actions 
     regarding firearms in emergency situations. We also feel that 
     police should be allowed to take into safekeeping any 
     dangerous weapons and/or explosives they find abandoned in a 
     building or home.
       Additionally, as law enforcement executives, we feel if the 
     President, a governor and/or mayor declares a state of 
     emergency for a devastated area after a disaster, these 
     officials should also be allowed to temporarily include 
     provisions for a weapon-free zone during the area's recovery. 
     For example, law enforcement may need to ensure that 
     evacuation sites are free of weapons. Sister law enforcement 
     agencies responding to a disaster must also be free to carry 
     their firearms into another jurisdiction and help maintain 
     law and order until the devastated area recovers.
       Finally, we are concerned that the bill creates a new right 
     to file lawsuits against police who take abandoned guns for 
     safekeeping in an emergency or create emergency secure areas 
     free from weapons. The bill should not create a new right to 
     file lawsuits against law enforcement seeking to safeguard 
     the public in emergency situations.
       Should you need additional information, please feel free to 
     contact MCC's General Counsel Craig Ferrell for further 
     clarification of our position.
           Sincerely,
                                                  Harold L. Hurtt,
     MCC President.
                                  ____

         National Association of Government Employees, SEIU, 
           International Brotherhood of Police Officers,
                                                   Alexandria, Va.

       The IBPO stands by our brothers and sisters in law 
     enforcement and disapproves of any legislation that may 
     interfere with a police officer's discretion to react as he 
     or she sees fit under extreme emergency circumstances. 
     Furthermore, the IBPO believes that responsible gun owners 
     who continue to act in accordance with federal, state and 
     local law are unlikely to have their guns confiscated unless 
     they use or possess the guns in a manner or place that would 
     be prohibited or threatening. The IBPO does not endorse the 
     Vitter amendment #4615.
           Signed,

                                                Steve Lenkart,

                                   Special Asst. to the President,
                                  Director of Legislative Affairs.

  Mr. KUHL of New York. Madam Speaker, I yield as much time as he may 
consume to the gentleman from Alaska (Mr. Young), the chairman of the 
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
  Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for 
yielding.
  I would like to suggest one thing. I deeply respect the individual 
from New York that just spoke against the legislation.
  H.R. 5013 does not specifically address gun possession in emergency 
shelters. It addresses only housing except to prohibit future guns 
regulations above and beyond the Federal, State, and local law. This 
requirement was included to prevent the repeat of a short-lived FEMA 
effort to ban gun possession in the FEMA trailer parks in Louisiana.
  H.R. 5013 does not override Federal, State or local laws restricting 
gun possession in various locations often used as shelters such as 
schools, government buildings and sports arena. That is what this bill 
does not do.
  We address these issues, including the one where the Coast Guard was 
rescuing someone with a helicopter, they could not bring a firearm on 
board that vessel or that aircraft.
  I would like to suggest this would never have had to happen if 
someone, and I will say government people, of what branch or other had 
decided they would take law into their own hands and go into a law-
abiding home and confiscate a gun from a citizen who had done no wrong, 
was only trying to protect their home. That is the premise of our 
democracy and our Republic, is the right to protect your castle. 
Regardless of whether it is the hoodlum, the burglar, the murderer, the 
rapist, or the government, no one has the right to take away my ability 
to defend myself, nor my cherished ones from he would intrude upon my 
being and my home. That is the second amendment; that is my right.
  To have a government, during a time of duress, the hurricane as bad 
as it was, to go into areas that were trying to protect themselves, and 
by the way, they went on television and said they did not have the 
manpower to address the looting, the rioters and the hoodlums but they 
had the manpower to go in and to take and confiscate arms from the law-
abiding citizens of Louisiana, and by the way, I believe this is the 
only area it did occur.
  So what I am suggesting in this legislation, I want to thank Mr. 
Jindal especially being the prime sponsor, this legislation precludes 
the government from taking away what is my cherished personal right to 
protect those I love, in a time a duress and, yes, even in a time of 
peace because you will never know when that peace will be eroded and 
taken away from you.
  So this legislation is a step because someone else misstepped, and 
some would say it is not necessary, it will not happen again. I have 
been around here long enough to know never say it will not happen 
again.
  So we should look forward to this legislation and pass it. Get on 
with it and let those government agencies that misstepped know that 
they now are under the scope of reality and what is right for this 
great Nation.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Without objection, the gentleman from 
Minnesota (Mr. Oberstar) will control the time.
  There was no objection.
  Mr. OBERSTAR. Madam Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentlewoman 
from New York (Mrs. McCarthy).
  Mrs. McCARTHY. Madam Speaker, once again, number one, I want to say 
that I stand by the remarks of my colleague from New York (Mr. Nadler), 
but once again, this Congress is waging a war on common sense.
  House leadership accuses the New Orleans Police Department of going 
door to door confiscating guns in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, 
but the superintendent of the department states that this was not the 
case at all. Does anybody really think that after a disaster of that 
magnitude a police department's first priority is to go door to door 
and harass gun owners? Of course not.
  Police merely arrested people who were breaking the law on the 
streets of

[[Page H5758]]

New Orleans. They were doing what they could to stop the looting and 
the sniper fire that slowed down the rescue workers. They never entered 
homes with the intent of collecting law-abiding citizens' guns, and by 
the way, we do not believe in that. We do not believe in going into 
someone's home without due cause on getting someone's gun.
  This latest scheme to appease the gun lobby will tie the hands of our 
police officers during times of crisis. The streets of an American city 
immediately after a disaster are no place to abandon common sense, and 
this bill does not do it, not even for the future.
  This bill allows guns in emergency shelters, provided the guns are 
legal. What if the gun owner does not have his license with him? Is the 
Red Cross official supposed to conduct background checks on gun owners 
to make sure they are legal? Can you imagine the chaos if loaded guns 
were allowed in the Superdome during Katrina? Again, it defies common 
sense.
  Everyone agrees that the government failed when responding to 
Hurricane Katrina; but instead of addressing the real shortcomings 
revealed by Katrina, the House chooses to make our first responders' 
jobs more difficult in the critical hours following a natural disaster 
or even a terrorist attack.
  This Congress has already cut funding to police officers and 
firefighters. Congress refused to make sure that the most at-risk 
communities received their fair share of homeland security funding, and 
now Congress is giving looters and criminals the upper hand in the 
aftermath of disaster.
  It is time for common sense. Vote ``no'' on this irresponsible bill.
  Madam Speaker, I now want to address some questions to the manager of 
H.R. 5013. To my colleague from New York (Mr. Kuhl) may I ask, Would 
this bill permit a person to bring a gun into a rescue shelter?
  I yield to the gentleman from New York.
  Mr. KUHL of New York. Thank you for yielding the time, but I would 
yield to the sponsor of the bill, Mr. Jindal from Jefferson Parish. He 
can tell you exactly what the bill deals with and the detail. I am 
simply the manager.
  Mr. JINDAL. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.
  This bill does not create nor does it delete any existing rights or 
State laws. So for example if there are existing State laws prohibiting 
guns in State shelters, this bill would do nothing to remove that 
prohibition. For example, many States already have existing laws 
prohibiting guns or firearms in schools, in sports arenas, or in other 
areas commonly used as shelters. Nothing in this bill would override 
that prohibition.
  Mrs. McCARTHY. Taking back my time, I understand that, but I know 
there are 17 States that already do not have any laws on the books. So 
the Federal law would not supercede what you are trying to do.
  May I ask another question. If a State law gives a Governor or mayor 
broad powers under a state of emergency, may that official order 
temporary confiscation in the name of public safety? Or must the State 
law be specific? I yield again to the gentleman from New Orleans.
  Mr. JINDAL. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman again for 
yielding.
  Again, if there is existing law allowing the Governor in a state of 
emergency or other circumstances to take extraordinary measures, 
nothing in this legislation would prohibit that Governor from doing so, 
or in Louisiana's case, it may by the primary law enforcement officer 
of the parish, we call them parishes, not counties, nothing in this 
bill would override, supercede existing State laws that allow the 
Governor or chief executive officer from doing so.
  Mrs. McCARTHY. I thank the gentleman for that answer, and one more 
question. Who is liable in any lawsuit authorized by this bill? Is it 
the officer who confiscates a gun or the city or the State? The 
language, even though I know you worked to change the language, is 
still a little bit confusing. I will state my question again: Who is 
liable in any lawsuit authorized by this bill? Is it the officer who 
confiscates a gun or the city or the State? Can the Federal Government 
be sued if the confiscation is made by a Federal officer? Can a person 
seek monetary damages in addition to the return of the gun?
  I yield again to the gentleman.
  Mr. JINDAL. Madam Speaker, again, let us be clear. I know there has 
been a lot of confusion and a lot of rhetoric about the private right 
of action contained in this bill.
  In Louisiana's case, going back to what happened specifically after 
Katrina, our State has already passed a State law prohibiting anybody 
in State or local law agencies from confiscating legally owned guns. 
The intent of this law is to apply to those agencies receiving Federal 
funds. The intent of the right of action was to counteract what 
happened last year when, even despite a court judgment, despite a 
ruling from a judge, there was still not compliance with that court 
ruling to return the firearms.
  So the intent is to be able to allow the individuals to recover, for 
example, attorneys fees, court costs to put some teeth into this bill 
to make sure that if a judge does indeed rule in favor of a plaintiff 
that action will be taken. That did not always happen last year in 
Louisiana after Katrina.
  Mrs. McCARTHY. Reclaiming my time, and let me follow up with what you 
had just said. Because the language in the bill, as it stands right 
now, there is not really a clarification on that, and I hope that we 
can work on that.
  Mr. KUHL of New York. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the 
distinguished gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Jindal), the sponsor of the 
bill.

                              {time}  1500

  Mr. JINDAL. I thank my colleague from New York for handling this bill 
and for supporting this in committee.
  Madam Speaker, I have a letter from the Fraternal Order of Police 
endorsing H.R. 5013, which I am pleased to submit for the Record.

                                                      Grand Lodge,


                                    Fraternal Order of Police,

                                    Washington, DC, July 24, 2006.
     Hon. Bobby Jindal,
     House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Representative Jindal, I am writing to you on behalf 
     of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you 
     of our support for H.R 5013, the ``Disaster Recovery Personal 
     Protection Act,'' which is scheduled to be considered by the 
     House tomorrow
       This legislation would prohibit the use of any Federal 
     funds from being used to seize firearms during a major 
     disaster or emergency, except under circumstances currently 
     applicable under Federal or State law. As we witnessed in the 
     communities along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane 
     Katrina, large scale critical incidents demanded the full 
     attention of law enforcement officers and other first 
     responders. During this time, the preservation of life--
     search and rescue missions--is the chief priority of every 
     first responder. Further, breakdowns in communications 
     systems and disaster-related transportation or other 
     infrastructure failures will lengthen a law enforcement 
     agency's response times, increasing the degree to which 
     citizens may have to protect themselves against criminals. A 
     law-abiding citizen who possess a firearm lawfully represents 
     no danger to law enforcement officers or any other first 
     responder.
       On behalf of the more than 324,000 members of the Fraternal 
     Order of Police, I am pleased to offer our support for this 
     bill and look forward to working with you to getting it 
     passed. If I can be of any further assistance on this issue, 
     please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director 
     Jim Pasco in my Washington office,
           Sincerely,
                                                 Chuck Canterbury,
                                               National President.

  Madam Speaker, a lot has been made and said about this bill, H.R. 
5013, and I want to take people back into the days, the hours right 
after Hurricane Katrina that devastated my home State. I want to remind 
people my constituents, many of them, were sitting in their homes 
without power, without water, and without communication. It was 
literally impossible to pick up a phone and call 9/11. For many, there 
was no recourse or ability to call for the police.
  Now, the first responders, the local and State law enforcement 
agents, many did a heroic job; however, they couldn't physically be at 
every place at every time. Indeed, many law enforcement officials 
advised residents to only return if they had firearms. Members of my 
staff were advised only to return if they were in possession of a 
firearm. It was a very different time than what we are normally 
accustomed to in our cities.
  H.R. 5013 makes sure that those that are obeying the law, lawful 
residents, are able to keep their legally owned

[[Page H5759]]

firearms, whether it be in their home, in their cars, in their 
businesses. There were instances where people were deprived of this 
right. Now, let me repeat this. At the same time that we had looters, 
at the same time we had other problems in our State and in our city, we 
absolutely had bureaucrats depriving people of their legal 
constitutional rights to possess a legally owned firearm.
  Now, contrast that with the situation in our neighboring State of 
Mississippi where the Governor famously said, ``If you loot, we will 
shoot.'' There were literally signs put up saying, ``If you loot, we 
will shoot.'' This bill is intended to make sure that, God forbid, if 
there is another hurricane, another natural disaster, another calamity 
in my home State, that my constituents aren't left defenseless, they 
aren't left without the ability to call 9/11, they are not left without 
the ability to defend their homes, defend their properties, or defend 
their families.
  Now, indeed, Ronald Reagan once famously said, and I will paraphrase, 
at the very least, we want any potential looters to have to think twice 
before they go through that front door. We want them to at least think 
twice that maybe those potential victims are armed and maybe that can 
serve as a useful deterrence.
  There are many things this bill does not do. It does not create any 
new rights or any other limitations under Federal, State, or local law. 
Now, I was pleased to answer the questions of my colleague from New 
York. This bill, further, does not prevent, does not prevent 
confiscating guns from felons. It has no effect on law enforcement 
operations outside of the disaster relief situation.
  It does not have any impact on law enforcement's ability, for 
example, to go after criminals and looters, to stop suspect behavior. 
It has no impact on law enforcement's ability to secure weapons, for 
example, that may be lying outside of somebody's possession. States are 
able, under this bill, to regulate their own shelters. States are able 
to adopt their own laws.
  For example, in Minnesota, a firearm cannot be brought on private 
property when the owner has posted a notice of that prohibition. My 
bill does not change this. This bill specifically allows the Coast 
Guard and others who are evacuating individuals to have their own 
regulations, to have their own requirements for getting on those boats, 
or getting on those helicopters.
  For example, it allows the temporary surrender of a firearm as a 
condition of entry. If a State, and many do, if a State does give 
express authority to ban possession of a firearm to the government, to 
others, my bill does nothing to supersede that.
  In conclusion, I am proud that my bill has the support of over 150 
Members of this House, Democrats and Republicans, and it has the 
support of the national Fraternal Order of Police. A similar bill has 
been adopted in my home State of Louisiana. It does one simple thing: 
it merely protects residents' legal right to own firearms.
  Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1\1/2\ minutes to the gentleman 
from New York.
  Mr. NADLER. If the gentleman will yield for a question, under this 
bill, if a law enforcement officer had completed evacuating people from 
someplace and saw a few guns lying around in a house, and didn't know 
who they belonged to but wanted to take them up so that looters who 
might come by later couldn't take them and present a menace to the 
public, would this prevent him from doing that?
  Would this subject him to a lawsuit later personally if it turned out 
that the owner of the house came back and said, why did he take my 
legally owned guns?
  Mr. JINDAL. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. NADLER. I yield to the gentleman from Louisiana.
  Mr. JINDAL. What happened actually in New Orleans, let's actually go 
back to what happened.
  Mr. NADLER. Answer the question, please.
  Mr. JINDAL. I will, but let me actually tell you what happened in New 
Orleans. I would like to offer a few facts for the record as well.
  There was looting, for example, of stores, where guns were 
potentially going to fall into the wrong hands. Nothing in this bill 
would prohibit law enforcement, after arresting those looters, from 
securing those firearms.
  Mr. NADLER. Reclaiming my time, I am not talking about after 
arresting looters. Law enforcement people see guns lying around in a 
house. They don't know who they belong to.
  Mr. JINDAL. If the gentleman will continue to yield, I am talking 
about the instance of firearms lying around this store that has been 
looted. In the situation the gentleman describes, there is no reason 
for law enforcement officers to be in somebody's home that has been 
abandoned.
  Mr. NADLER. Let me say this. There are lots of reasons why law 
enforcement may be going by: to check on the safety of people, to look 
into a house to see if anybody is there lying wounded or whatever. They 
see guns lying around. No one is there, thank God. They are all out, 
but they see guns lying around. Under this bill, if they pick up those 
guns, lest looters come and find them later and it later turns out that 
those guns legally belonged to the homeowner, when that homeowner 
returned, he could sue the individual privately. And, therefore, no cop 
in his right mind would pick up those guns. He would have to leave it 
for the looters.
  This bill, as I said before, is insane.
  Mr. KUHL of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman 
from Pennsylvania, the chairman of the Emergency Management 
Subcommittee, Mr. Shuster.
  Mr. SHUSTER. I thank the gentleman, and, Mr. Speaker, I rise today in 
strong support of H.R. 5013, to help ensure the American people retain 
their rights to defend their families and property during the chaos 
which may follow during a disaster.
  I also want to commend Congressman Jindal, the sponsor of this bill, 
and Congressman Kuhl for their hard work in bringing it to the floor 
today. The gentleman from Louisiana saw the breakdown of law and order 
following Hurricane Katrina and understands more than most why we need 
this bill. Congressman Kuhl serves with me on the Emergency Management 
Subcommittee and is a long-standing champion of our second amendment 
rights. They both deserve the lion's share of credit for protecting our 
rights today.
  I wish I could say that this bill wasn't needed, but after Katrina I 
know that it is. Following Katrina's devastation, thousands of law-
abiding citizens found themselves in a desperate situation where chaos 
reigned and the police were overwhelmed. Under these circumstances, 
bedrock American principles, such as neighbor helping neighbor, self-
reliance, self-defense, and even the right to bear arms were often the 
key to survival.
  This bill is needed, because under those horrible conditions, too 
many Americans were denied their basic rights and had their legal 
firearms seized. That is simply wrong and must be changed before the 
next disaster strikes.
  I also want to make clear, as I believe Mr. Jindal has made clear, 
that this bill does not suspend any existing law enforcement, local, 
State, or Federal; nor does it somehow make it legal to use firearms in 
a way that is otherwise illegal. I want to repeat that, because some 
today are trying to confuse that. This bill does not spend any existing 
law enforcement power, local State, or Federal; nor does it somehow 
make it legal to use firearms in a way that is otherwise illegal.
  If people use their guns illegally, then law enforcement has the 
legal authority to apprehend suspects and seize their guns. Nothing in 
this bill changes that.
  In closing, let me again thank Mr. Jindal and Mr. Kuhl for their 
leadership on this issue, and I look forward to working with them and 
other Members to move this bill forward.
  Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Speaker, may I inquire of the Chair how much time 
remains on both sides.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Gillmor). The gentleman from Minnesota 
has 8\1/2\ minutes remaining, and the gentleman from New York has 9\1/
2\ minutes remaining.
  Mr. OBERSTAR. I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from 
Ohio (Mr. Strickland).
  Mr. STRICKLAND. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and, 
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of

[[Page H5760]]

H.R. 5013, the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006. This 
good bipartisan effort will protect individuals' rights to maintain 
their personal firearms during an emergency.
  Unfortunately, we know what happened just a few months ago in the 
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Many in the gulf coast region had their 
personal firearms confiscated by authorities. Many families lost 
valuable heirlooms this way. H.R. 5013 would allow individuals in 
future disasters to maintain possession of their personal property, 
including their firearms.
  I urge all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support 
this commonsense and much-needed legislation.
  Mr. KUHL of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the 
distinguished gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Schwarz).
  Mr. SCHWARZ of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join my 
colleagues in support of the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act, 
H.R. 5013, of which I am a cosponsor.
  While looting and other criminal activity were taking place in New 
Orleans, many civilians chose to protect themselves and their property. 
Many of these citizens kept firearms for the safety of themselves, 
their businesses, their families, and their property. They used 
firearms individually or in concert with their neighbors for protection 
against crime.
  However, these lawful weapons were confiscated at gunpoint by 
nonconsensual entries into private homes, traffic checkpoints, by 
stopping of boats, and otherwise by force. The citizens from whom 
firearms were confiscated were either in their own homes or attempting 
to flee the flooding and devastation by means of motor vehicle or boat 
and were accosted, stopped, and arbitrarily deprived of their private 
property.
  The means by which the confiscations were carried out, which included 
intrusion into the home, temporary detention of persons, and seizures 
of property, constituted unreasonable searches and seizures and 
deprived these citizens of liberty and property without the due process 
of law, in violation of fundamental rights under the Constitution.
  Many of the confiscated firearms were family heirlooms, gifts given 
as a child, or were collectors' items. All firearms were taken with a 
handwritten receipt on a stray piece of paper or no receipt at all. 
Individuals with proof of purchase and serial number are still not able 
to get their firearms back. Of the few firearms that have been 
returned, some are ruined beyond repair due to water damage. Many of 
the firearms lost or stolen will never be returned.
  H.R. 5013 clearly states the rights of people who own firearms during 
a major disaster or emergency. H.R. 5013 protects civilians' rights to 
bear arms, and H.R. 5013 allows people the right to protect themselves 
and their property as our forefathers intended.
  Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, the principal problem with this bill is that it didn't 
have any hearings. The bill was introduced and moved through the 
committee without deliberation, without consideration. Many of the 
issues that have been discussed this afternoon on the floor were issues 
that could and should have been raised in the course of hearings, and 
that would have been resolved, as they have been resolved in the bill 
now under consideration, but not in the bill introduced nor in the bill 
reported from committee.
  Now, the appropriate order of business in our committee is we, unless 
there is overwhelming consensus, we have a hearing on a bill. And even 
on bills in which there is overwhelming consensus on both sides, we 
have hearings on the legislation, because there is always something 
that may come up that we hadn't thought about. And there were things 
that came up in this bill that the drafters hadn't thought about, and 
those were issues of law enforcement, public safety officials, 
specifically the Coast Guard.
  The Coast Guard is mobilized to deal with a disaster when it has to 
evacuate persons stricken by disaster, hurricanes, floods, at sea under 
tempestuous circumstances, as we see on the Weather Channel the Coast 
Guard nobly rescuing people under extraordinary adverse circumstances. 
The bill, as introduced, would have prohibited a Coast Guard officer 
from requiring a person boarding a rescue helicopter, boarding a rescue 
vessel, a search and rescue ship, would have prohibited those persons 
from surrendering their firearm. Not to seize the firearm, not to take 
it away permanently, but to say we will keep this for you until you are 
safely onshore. There is no law that gives the Coast Guard the 
authority to do that.
  Now, we should have had the bill under consideration in the 
committee, and we should have provided that authority to the Coast 
Guard, and that authority would be perfectly acceptable to advocates of 
firearm ownership. I have been, for 32 years, an advocate for firearm 
ownership. I have supported the right to keep and bear arms for all my 
service in the Congress and long before that, as a young lad growing up 
in northern Minnesota going out hunting before school and after school 
and on the weekends. But this is a different situation, and we needed 
that authority for the Coast Guard.
  So now we have it in this language that is on page 5, line 19 of the 
bill before us. Subsection (b) Limitation: nothing in this section 
shall be construed to prohibit any person from requiring the temporary 
surrender of a firearm as a condition for entry into any mode of 
transportation used to rescue or evacuate during a major disaster or 
emergency.

                              {time}  1515

  That is sensible. That is reasonable. It is not confiscation. The 
Coast Guard in this case, the agency that we have in mind, will hold 
the firearm and, after the rescue is completed, the person gets the 
firearm back. Now, we should have had that in the bill before it even 
came to the House floor.
  The other problem was that, on the face of it, it would prohibit 
operators of shelters from requiring the surrender of a weapon as a 
condition for entry into the shelter. Now, this same, similar language, 
operates to protect those who operate shelters, such as the Super Dome 
or the Convention Center.
  Now, the principal author of the bill, the gentleman from Louisiana, 
spoke with accuracy about the circumstances in New Orleans and with 
some detail. I know of circumstances myself. My brother-in-law, who 
still lives in New Orleans, in fact, both my brother-in-laws live in 
New Orleans were affected by the flood.
  I have a very close friend whose home was broken into. They were on 
the second floor. They heard the people looting the place. His gun was 
on the first floor. He had no access to the gun. He couldn't protect 
the house, so to save themselves, they fled into the attic while the 
looters were stripping their house. They might have been able to do 
something if they had had the gun on the second floor and had more 
access to it.
  There are many circumstances of this kind, where the person, as the 
gentleman from Louisiana said, should be able to protect him or herself 
in their own home. But you don't need a gun to go into the Superdome. 
You don't need a gun when you are in the Convention Center. If you have 
one and you are there, this legislation permits, under and in 
accordance with State and local law, the surrender of that firearm for 
the time of keeping or refuge in the center. That is what it does. So 
we have a good balance between the second amendment rights of our 
fellow citizens, the responsibilities of the Coast Guard, protection of 
the Coast Guard against frivolous actions, and protection of fellow 
citizens who operate in all good faith, shelters for victims of 
disaster. In that spirit, this legislation ought to be enacted, and we 
ought to support the bill and it ought to pass handily in this House.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. KUHL of New York. Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, let me simply thank 
the subcommittee chairman of Emergency Management, Mr. Shuster, for 
bringing this bill through the subcommittee, and certainly Chairman 
Young for moving the bill through the Transportation and Infrastructure 
Committee, and most importantly, I think we owe a great deal of thanks 
to Mr. Jindal for recognizing a situation which was very, very, I am 
sure, difficult for some of the residents of his district and the 
people of New Orleans to face.
  It is one thing to face a tragedy, but then also to be thrown into a 
situation where, in fact, you are not only

[[Page H5761]]

stripped of your guns, your means of protection, but you are stripped 
of your constitutional rights. And that was what was done to the people 
of New Orleans whose guns and protection for their family was actually 
occurring in front of their very eyes. So, you know, this body is all 
about adopting laws that are meant to face situations that we haven't 
faced before, and certainly Katrina was one of those instances we did 
not face before, a storm of this magnitude.
  So, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill. I think 
it is a terrific bill to insure the second amendments rights to the 
people of not only New Orleans and future disasters, but certainly the 
people of this country. And I would urge all my colleagues to support 
it.
  Mrs. CUBIN. Mr. Speaker, I hail from a state where we cherish the 
fundamental Second Amendment right of law-abiding citizens to own 
firearms. The Second Amendment is one of the most meaningful ways in 
which the founders of our great Nation worked to guarantee our freedom 
and liberty.
  Nowhere does the principle of liberty exist more fully than in the 
right to protect yourself, your loved ones and your property. With the 
breakdown of law and order in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, 
thousands were confronted with grave threats to their health and 
safety. Calls to 911 went unanswered. Police failed to stop the 
violence and looting. Many of the law-abiding people of New Orleans 
were on their own to protect themselves.
  I was outraged that authorities illegally confiscated firearms from 
many of these citizens at the time they needed them most. The 
government rendered individuals and families defenseless and helpless 
in the face of imminent danger. In one case, a search and rescue team 
was banned from assisting in relief efforts because some of them had 
firearms. There are also reports of officials arbitrarily searching 
homes, cars, and boats in search of firearms. This is not only 
unacceptable, it is a violation of our Nation's Constitution.
  I cosponsored the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006 
to ensure that the confiscation of firearms in New Orleans will not 
become a precedent for crises in the future. H.R. 5013 will prohibit 
federal officials, or state and local officials under federal control, 
from seizing firearms or restricting firearms possession outside of 
applicable federal, state or local law.
  I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation, which 
makes it clear that citizens can count on their constitutional right to 
bear arms at times when they need it the most.
  Ms. CORRINE BROWN of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to oppose 
this bill, the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act.
  As you may know, I am from Florida. I do not hide that fact and am 
very proud of it. Occasionally, we get hurricanes in Florida and it is 
dangerous for us to stay in our homes.
  When I go to a shelter, I do not want to have to worry that the 
person next to me has a gun. The shelter is a safe haven, and if that 
man over there has a gun, I am not safe.
  The police are there for a reason. If a person has a gun, that is a 
threat to the public safety.
  Looting is bad. I do not deny that. However, possessions can be 
replaced. Things are just that: things.
  Your life cannot be replaced.
  Vote no on this bill today.
  Let us debate this bill in Committee and hold hearings to hear all 
sides of the issue before we decide whether we are putting our first 
responders into greater danger.
  Mrs. DRAKE. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to come to the floor today to 
voice my support for H.R. 5013, the Disaster Recovery Personal 
Protection Act.
  In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, we heard reports regarding the 
seizure of firearms from law-abiding citizens by representatives of the 
federal government. I was disheartened by these reports.
  As we know, the Second Amendment to the Constitution firmly 
establishes our right to keep and bear arms. This fundamental right is 
all the more necessary in the aftermath of a major disaster when 
government is unable to provide reliable protection from crime. The 
denial of this right by federal officials in the aftermath of Katrina 
was deplorable.
  The Second Congressional District of Virginia, which I represent, 
encompasses the entire Atlantic coastline of the Commonwealth. While we 
have not experienced a natural disaster on the scale of Hurricane 
Katrina, the Second District is itself very susceptible to the threat 
of Hurricanes and other natural disasters.
  With enactment of this legislation, we will codify the right of law-
abiding citizens in areas affected by disasters to be able to protect 
themselves, their families, and their property.
  I am a cosponsor of the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act 
because I believe this Congress should be committed to protecting our 
Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. I am proud to support this 
legislation and I urge my colleagues to do the same.
  Mr. KUHL of New York. I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. 
Speaker.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from New York (Mr. Kuhl) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, H.R. 5013, as amended.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds of 
those present have voted in the affirmative.
  Mr. KUHL of New York. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and 
nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the 
Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this question will 
be postponed.

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