COVID-19 (“Coronavirus Disease”) has spread around the world at a frightening speed and, more likely than not, has impacted your local community. The federal government has responded to this health crisis by restricting travel to specific countries and, most recently, imposed a 30-day travel restriction to the United States by foreign nationals in certain European countries.
States of emergency can bring fear and panic for everyone, due to the uncertainty surrounding them. When state governments throughout the U.S. have varying policies regarding how your rights change, it can be confusing for anyone to fully understand their freedoms during these times.
What exactly is a “State of Emergency”?
States of emergency are declared during situations where civil unrest is widespread due to disease, violence, etc. or when natural disasters have occurred. Depending on your state, there can be different categories of these declarations – Disaster, Natural Disaster, Emergency, or Public Health Emergency.
The major takeaway for understanding a state of emergency and its subcategories is that while they all generally cover the same thing, categorizing them helps specify the roles, funds, and agencies acting within that specific emergency and government.
What does a State of Emergency Declaration do?
A federal declaration of emergency generally doesn’t change state law, unless they conflict with the specific terms outlined in the federal declaration. That being said, if a state wants to enact temporary modifications to state law during an emergency, it would need to directly specify that in its own declaration.
Are my rights as a gun owner affected?
In 2006, Congress passed the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act, which directly outlined a firearm policy during major disasters or emergencies. 42 U.S. Code § 5207 states that as long as you are legally able to own your firearm, it cannot be taken from you. This law is designed to protect your Second Amendment rights, even during states of emergency.
However, it’s applicable only to federal forms and extensions of government, and agencies being federally funded.
Since each state would need to specify how its own laws will or will not change, in their own state of emergency declaration, it’s important that you are familiar with your state’s unique terms.
Make sure to comply with your state laws, and remain calm, level-headed, and stay safe.
If you are unsure about your state’s current status, about how your rights are affected by the declaration of a state of emergency, or have any other concerning questions, call and ask to speak to your U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney.