In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, instead of pursuing criminals who had broken the law, New Orleans police went door to door, seizing legal firearms from law-abiding citizens. The firearms still haven't been returned, and now officials say they're not sure where they all are. A lawsuit was filed to force their return. The city has repeatedly failed to provide required documentation and information as required by the court. Sounds like the judge has had enough. Many gun owners see the case as a landmark to test the idea that law-abiding citizens' right or keep and bear arms cannot be taken away just because some official thinks there's a good reason. ------------------------------ http://www.nola.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news-19/117152496865700.xml?NZNPMT&coll=1 Judge cites Nagin, Riley City missed deadlines in gun-rights lawsuit Feb. 15, 2007 A federal judge has held New Orleans' mayor and police chief in contempt of court because a city lawyer repeatedly ignored deadlines for answering questions from two gun-rights groups that succeeded in stopping police from seizing guns from law-abiding citizens after Hurricane Katrina. In a written order Monday, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rebuked Assistant City Attorney Joseph DiRosa for "wholly unprofessional conduct" that "shall not be condoned" for his repeated failure to hand over information in a lawsuit seeking a permanent order blocking such gun seizures. Barbier, scheduled in June to try the case filed by the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation against the city, said DiRosa admitted he had "no good reason" for failing to respond on time to information requests from the plaintiffs. DiRosa said he has now handed over the information to the plaintiffs, but that did nothing to mollify Barbier. He said DiRosa had caused the plaintiffs to waste time and money, and ordered the city to pay $1,365 to cover what it cost a Second Amendment Foundation attorney to draw up the contempt-of-court paperwork. Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Superintendent Warren Riley, named as the defendants in the suit, were not personally penalized by the judge. Meanwhile, Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan M. Gottlieb denied that DiRosa has handed over anything sought by his organization and the NRA. The Times-Picayune tried unsuccessfully Tuesday to reach DiRosa for comment on the case or Barbiers' order. That order signals Barbier's patience in the face of stonewalling by the city "has grown as thin as our own,' " Gottlieb said. The city's lawyers, he said, "seemed to have forgotten that the case involves serious constitutional violations -- namely, the city's move to send police officers and Louisiana National Guard members out in Katrina's aftermath to confiscate weapons from citizens, in many cases, at gunpoint, without a warrant and without probable cause." "Nagin and Riley and every other official in New Orleans who was part of this outrage need to understand that the Constitution may not be suspended in New Orleans or anywhere else by a natural disaster or on somebody's whim," he said. Gottlieb called the contempt- of-court ruling "the first step toward forcing New Orleans to return seized firearms to their rightful owners and in our effort to find out who issued that illegal order and hold them responsible." According to Gottlieb, the city has reneged on promises made last year to cooperate with pretrial discovery requests, including offering people who have no proof they own a particular gun to get it back after describing it and passing a background check. Gottlieb said it's his understanding that only about 100 of the estimated 1,000 guns seized after Katrina have been returned to their owners even though many of the weapons were tagged with information about where they were taken or who owned them. The gun rights groups have not been given a chance to examine the inventory of seized weapons, Gottlieb said. It's his understanding that the weapons are being stored in a shipping container into which water is leaking, he said. "We're not sure that all the guns that were confiscated are actually sitting in this container," he said.