Protecting the rights of citizens

North Dakota citizens are safe now from overzealous authorities who might try to confiscate private guns during a declared state of emergency, thanks to legislation passed Monday by the state Senate.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple is expected to sign the legislation. Under current law, the governor has the authority to limit or suspend the sale, distribution, and transportation of firearms, ammunition, alcoholic beverages, explosives and combustibles. The new law would take firearms and ammunition off that list, and the governor could still regulate the other items.

Supporters of the bill, which passed the Senate 44-3, argue that private citizens have the right to protect themselves against looters and other criminals during a state of emergency, and they are absolutely correct. About 30 states have similar legislation, many of them passing laws after New Orleans police confiscated guns in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Obviously, there are drawbacks to such legislation, in that not every citizen with a firearm is simply trying to protect their home or business during an emergency. Some of those folks with firearms would be the ones who are up no good. Then again, that’s all the more reason to allow homeowners and business owners to keep their private weapons to protect themselves.

The state Senate made the right decision in supporting this legislation. Hopefully, there are few, if any, opportunities to use the legislation, because that means the state has no cause to declare a state of emergency.