A senate bill that would provide civil penalties for government agents who confiscate firearms from lawful citizens during a state of emergency was tabled for further study on Wednesday.
SB157, sponsored by Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Lehi, would preclude the governor or any government agency from confiscating firearms from citizens during a declared state of emergency. He referred to the bill as the "Katrina bill" and said it was in response to reports of firearms being taken from residents of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region.
The bill would impose civil penalties of between $5,000 to $10,000 on persons who confiscate firearms from a person who is legally entitled to poses them, which excludes convicted felons and others. The bill does make exceptions for those who are using a firearm to commit a crime and for self-defense.
Lawmakers with the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee asked if the bill would impose civil penalties on police officers. Madsen that it would.
Some lawmakers expressed concern that in the confusion of a state of emergency, they wondered if police would have the ability to differentiate between lawful and unlawful firearm holders. Senate President John Valentine said there was also a governmental immunity issue with holding police civilly liable.