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Press Release:
Dec 16, 2010

Washington, D.C. — The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence today filed a brief in federal court in North Carolina urging the court to dismiss a lawsuit seeking a right to take up arms in streets and other public spaces during riots or other emergencies.  The lawsuit challenges a longstanding North Carolina law that allows gun carrying on a person’s property but temporarily bars public gun carrying in the vicinity of a riot and during states of emergency.

“The Second Amendment does not grant a right of vigilantes to take up arms on our streets during a riot or state of emergency,” said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.  “Police and emergency responders seeking to quell a riot or deliver aid during an emergency should not be forced to contend with legally-authorized armed individuals and groups roaming alleys and public streets.”

The Brady Center’s brief argues that there is no right of armed vigilantes to take to the streets during riots or congregate in the vicinity of emergency responders trying to secure a downtown during riots, looting, or terrorist attacks.  The prospect of police and emergency responders being powerless to stop bands of armed citizens from taking to the streets during emergencies, looting, or rioting poses a serious threat to the government’s ability to maintain public order and deliver emergency services.  If the lawsuit were successful, law enforcement would be unable to detect whether roaming armed individuals or gangs were would-be looters, terrorists, or vigilantes, thus jeopardizing their safety and their ability to respond to states of emergency.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that the Second Amendment grants a right to possess a gun in the home for self-defense, but emphasized that this right “is not unlimited” and is subject to “reasonable firearms regulations.”  The Supreme Court has held that bans on carrying concealed weapons do not violate the Second Amendment and courts have given the government broad authority to restore order during riots and emergencies.

The lawsuit, Bateman v. Purdue, was filed by the Second Amendment Foundation in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.  The Brady Center’s brief was joined by North Carolina Million Mom March Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Religious Coalition For a Nonviolent Durham.  The brief was filed by attorneys with the Brady Center and the firm Hogan Lovells US LLP, along with Drew Erteschik of the Raleigh, N.C. firm Poyner Spruill LLP.


As the nation’s largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, the Brady Campaign, with its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, works to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations and public policies. The Brady Campaign is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.

For continuing insight and comment on the gun issue, read Paul Helmke’s blog Visit the Brady Campaign website at

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  1. I’ve got a good thing going with my neighbors. We are all like-minded and have agreed that, in the event of a civil disturbance, we would collectively ensure our neighborhood was secured until the “authorities” were able to re-establish normal security.

    What if the police are overwhelmed and won’t respond for days? Should we let the neighborhood just burn down? I’m completely opposed to any scheme that places the welfare and security of my family completely in the hands of someone else and makes us dependent on a police force that may or may not be effective.

      • I know this is an old post, and I dont think a lot of people will read it.

        That being said, I think that whole mess with the cops picking up peoples guns in N.O. was some kind of test. It was almost like they had to see how people would react if they did this in a place that was very pro-gun.

        I saw some very disturbing vids on you-tube about the incident. It looked like the LEOs and national guard guys were doing too good a job, like they were actually enjoying themselves.

        I know people have to follow orders, but orders that violate the oath they all took to defend the Constitution? If I were ordered to search for weapons, I would. I just would not find any.

        I’m not going to mention that jack ass throwing the old lady on the floor.

  2. With all due respect to Cemetery’s Gun Blob, I was in New Orleans during the Katrina crisis and to say the police bailed is a gross calumny. The police were horribly led, and there were a few really bad cops. The vast majority, though, acted heroically. As for disarming the population during the disaster, I can tell you that as someone who was in the city, I was glad to see the cops taking guns. I had lots of guns pointed at me, by panicked uptown whites wildly overreacting. They, not “roving bands of marauders” that were entirely a fiction, were the real public-safety problem. I saw no violence at all. I never saw an armed black man who wasn’t in uniform. Looting, sure. Taking food and water and medicine, mostly (the liquor shelves in the supermarkets were almost entirely untouched.) What I saw was people helping each other out, not raping and killing each other — even the big gold-toothed guys that we are all programmed to fear. Getting the guns out of New Orleans made it feel like a safer place. I can understand people wanting to be armed in such a situation. But the assholes among us waved their guns around and made themselves obnoxious, and the authorities were forced to react to that. This just in: Guns are not always the solution to everything, and sometimes people behave so badly with them that government would be irresponsible if it didn’t respond. If somebody wants to have a gun in the house or business during civil unrest, I get it. But forbidding people to parade around with them openly isn’t a bad idea.


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