Friday, September 3, 2010

Rumor Mongerer

I guess that is what I am according to the people in Gov. Beverly Perdue's office. I had called this afternoon to ask when the declared state of emergency would be lifted.

The young lady who answered the phone didn't know exactly but was sure it would be in effect for a few more days. She asked if I lived in coastal North Carolina and was I affected by the storm. I replied no but I was concerned about it due to the impact of the declaration on my ability to be transport or possess a firearm outside the home.

She immediately got defensive and flustered. The position of the Governor's Office was that the state of emergency did not ban this because it wasn't a riot. She was adament that Chapter 14, Section 288 of Article 36A only dealt with riots. Actually it is entitled "Riots and Civil Disorders". She pointed me to the Governor's Office Blog for a release by Chris Mackey, Gov. Perdue's press secretary, as if it were the definitive word on this:
We've received a number of questions about dove hunting season. Executive Order 62 did not trigger the provisions of G.S. 14-288.7 and there was never any intention by the issuance of Executive Order 62 to restrict the transportation or possession of off premises firearms. The order was written in such a way that the rights of North Carolina gun owners were not infringed upon.
I'm sure the pronouncement of a press secretary will go over really well when you try to use it as a defense in criminal court.

The young lady in the Governor's Office did opine that she wished those spreading the "rumor" about the impact of the Executive Order would stop. The only problem is that the law reads the way it does and not the way the young lady, the Governor, or her press secretary would like it to read.

The entirety of Chapter 14 of the NC General Statutes can be found here. I would encourage readers to scan the statutes beginning at § 14‑288.1. Definitions. and continue through § 14‑288.20. Certain weapons at civil disorders. Much of this section does indeed deal with riots and I won't disagree about that. However, if you read carefully you will see the words "catastrophe", "storm", "fire", "flood", and "calamity."

G.S. 14‑288.7 does not discriminate between storm and riot if an emergency has been declared. It does not read "in an area in which a state of emergency exists; AND, Within the immediate vicinity of which a riot is occurring." The two clauses are connected by OR which means that they are independent clauses and either will trigger the prohibition on transport or possession off-premises.

Where I think the Governor's Office has it wrong is that they assume she must specifically invoke the provisions of G.S. 14‑288.12.(b)(4) which prohibits "the possession, transportation, sale, purchase, storage, and use of dangerous weapons and substances, and gasoline" to impose restrictions on the possession and transportation of firearms. Actually, the declaration of the state of emergency triggers the lesser restrictions on possession and transportation and G.S. 14‑288.12.(b)(4) allows the Governor or local officials to go over and beyond that.

If excellent attorneys such as Alan Gura, Kearns Davis, and Andrew Tripp read the law this way - and they do - then I don't think I'm off base in my statement of the facts regardless of what Bev Perdue and her minions may think.

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