BELLEVUE, WA – This week’s astonishing revelation that the Federal Emergency Management Agency suspended the Phoenix, Ariz. Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue team because it was accompanied by four armed police officers when it traveled to Louisiana to help with disaster relief efforts, demonstrates a despicable anti-gun attitude that the Bush Administration must immediately change, said the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA).

“FEMA just flunked the personality test,” said CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron. “FEMA officials didn’t bat an eye when teams of police from other jurisdictions descended on New Orleans and St. Tammany Parish in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, disarming law-abiding citizens who had committed no crime. Nobody from FEMA uttered a peep when California Highway Patrol officers body-slammed Patricia Konie to the floor in her own home taking her revolver and forcibly removing her from her residence for evacuation.

“Yet FEMA went ballistic when a team of trained specialists came to help their fellow Americans, in a region gripped by anarchy, simply because the Phoenix group had the good sense to bring along four armed officers for their security,” Waldron noted. “These officers did not engage in gun grabs. They were deputized as U.S. Marshals, and were only there to protect the fire department rescue personnel. U.S. Marshals think it’s a good idea for rescue teams to have armed escorts. It just might save somebody’s life.

“The American public, and especially the citizens of Phoenix and members of their fire and police departments, deserve an apology from FEMA,” Waldron said. “Those people came to help, and they deserved much better than a backhand slap from FEMA just because somebody prudently was carrying a shotgun.

“Further,” he continued, “we want to know what influence FEMA officials may have had in the decision by local law enforcement to disarm gun owners in New Orleans and St. Tammany Parish. Somebody gave that order, and we want to know who. That illegal edict originated somewhere, and if FEMA officials had any role in adopting a public disarmament policy, it better never happen again, and those responsible should be fired.

“Congress needs to tell FEMA that it’s sole mission is disaster relief, not gun control,” Waldron stated. “FEMA’s job is to coordinate relief efforts, not dictate what equipment response teams bring along, or what security provisions they provide.”