Repeal of Virgin Islands Gun Seizure Law a Needed Part of Recovery Efforts

By David Codrea

No Constitutional local government could demand American citizens surrender their firearms and ammunition under these conditions.
David Codrea in his natural habitat.

USA – -(Ammoland.com)- “The application of U.S. law to the [United States Virgin Islands] can present complicated legal issues, but the bottom line is that Gov. Mapp’s order infringes on the Second Amendment rights of U.S. citizens,” the National Rifle Association declared. NRA was reacting to an emergency order that included authorization for gun and ammunition seizures as part of the government's  Hurricane Irma response plan. “The NRA is therefore prepared to engage as necessary to ensure that Gov. [Kenneth] Mapp’s overreaching order is reversed so that residents of the USVI have all legal tools available to weather the storm, including their lawfully-owned, constitutionally-protected arms.”

“The Adjutant General is authorized and directed to seize arms, ammunition, explosives, incendiary material and any other property that may be required by the military forces for the performance of this emergency mission, in accordance with the Rules of Force promulgated by the Virgin Islands National Guard and approved by the Virgin Islands Department of Justice,” Mapp had ordered Monday.

That prompted justified outrage along with an examination of Constitutional protections extended to territories, U.S. Virgin Islands gun laws, other relevant background information, and a look back at the wholly illegal Hurricane Katrina gun confiscations.

Gun Confiscation Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans
Gun Confiscation Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans

And an angry outcry from gun owners prompted a defensive response from Government House:

The CYA statement ignores who started it.

The boilerplate “language of the law” deflection was just that. So was the not untypical response of people who know they’re in the wrong, which explains the administration throwing back the false accusation of “trying to create confusion.”

Mapp saw fit to include his gun-grab power in his order, and the fact that it was further backed by such a “law” only adds to the outrage. The bottom line is, they could have gone through with such seizures had they wanted to, as 23 V.I.C. § 1522 explains:

“Whenever the Governor orders part or all of the military forces of the Virgin Islands into Territorial Active Military Service under section 1519 he may, by written order– (1) Direct the Adjutant General or other appropriate authority to seize arms, ammunition, explosives, incendiary material, and any other property that may be required by the military forces. (2) Prohibit the sale, exchange, loan or donation, during the emergency of arms, ammunition, explosives, gasoline, incendiary material or alcoholic beverages, and the closing of any establishment in which any such property is found.”

That such presumptuous edicts have not attracted greater notice until brought to the fore by a disaster is all the more outrageous when considering another disaster. Not that long ago, the life-threatening dangers Virgin Islands residents faced in addition to those posed by nature were more than amply demonstrated.

From The Los Angeles Times, September 21, 1989:

“In a wave of lawlessness that spread across the island, eyewitnesses reported looting by men and women, children and the elderly, even police and National Guardsmen. Armed gangs were reported roaming the streets. Ham radio operators said between 300 and 500 inmates had broken out of a hurricane-damaged prison and were loose in the city.”

Police and National Guardsmen were among the looters. Think about that for a minute. And recall that we saw that in New Orleans.

“Those with concerns about this provision of the VI Code should bring them to our law-making body following the storm,” Government House concluded.

OK. Storm’s over for them. And it’s understood that rescue and recovery operations will be the first priority, along with prayers and support.

That said, it will take Gov. Mapp less time than it took to type this paragraph to declare he believes the citizen disarmament powers delegated in 23 V.I.C. § 1522 are unconstitutional, that he repudiates and will not enforce them, and that he calls on all members of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands to repeal those provisions at the first reasonable opportunity.

If not done in a timely manner, Congress and President Trump should be pressed to exercise their veto power over territorial legislation. As long as the territory remains part of the United States, “The supreme Law of the Land” needs to prevail.

About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.

In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

  • 20 thoughts on “Repeal of Virgin Islands Gun Seizure Law a Needed Part of Recovery Efforts

    1. Was V.I. Gov. [Kenneth] Mapp ever punished for violating the Constitutional Civil Rights of those U.S. Citizens? Or did he just get away with it?

    2. Lets use words like they do.. i think its about time we start purchasing (seize) all public lands,buildings,and property back from the govt. and send all the corrupt officials all those ones that have enriched themselves while they were suppose to be working for us on a forced march across the country apologizing to everyone they meet. That goes for the left the right and the middle.

    3. If this was actually written without sinister gun confiscation in mind the VI government needs to learn constitutional law. This has me wondering if any of our states have similar “laws” on the books..but I’d like to imagine such a thing would not go unnoticed in the US.

    4. Set aside for a moment the 2nd Amendment, due process, and other Constitutional problems with this law/order. How in the heck is this even CREDIBLE? Seriously, the VI National Guard consists of a Military Police Company, a Construction unit and an assortment of others. The MP Company will have the following weapons:

      1 M2 .50 Caliber Browning Machine Gun. (Note: Do NOT piss off the cooks, Ma Deuce is their baby. )
      32 SAW / M60 Machine Guns (1 of each per squad)
      @160 M16/M4 Select Fire Rifles (1 for everybody except the M-60 gunners and maybe some HHP folk)
      @120+ Pistols (1 for all of the line MPs, as well as the Occiphers and Top)
      @16 Shotguns (1 for each Assistant Squad Leader)
      @16 M203 Grenade Launchers (1 in each squad)
      Basically, every member of the unit will have 1 weapon, most will have 2, and those issued shotguns or M203s will have 3 weapons.

      So, what in the heck is a civilian going to have that the government is going to NEED in order to carry out the emergency mission? Look carefully at the wording of the law and the order. The authorization is for stuff they NEED to do the job. The only “shortcoming” from an emergency mission perspective that an MP Company MIGHT have would be no intrinsic sniper capability, and for all I know, they may have some DMRs these days.

    5. I wonder if members of the National Guard will comply with Mapps illegal orders. I also wonder where Mapp is going to find the rough men to fulfill his dictates?

    6. Sign the petition at Whitehouse.gov to remove Gov. Matt from office for this blatant violation of the second amendment rights of US citizens in the US
      Virgin Islands.

    7. did everybody take a double dose of Democrat pills?

      “any other property that may be required by the military forces.”

      this is not a general seizure, it’s an authorization to take things “that may be required by the military forces.”

      they are not taking, they are authorizing taking only if necessary

      1. and do tell, pray, preciesly WHO and on WHAT basis the decision is made in the field to seize or not this particular item? Did you not read that, during a similar event in 1989, Guardsmen and police were SEEN engaging in theft and looting? If then, why not now?

        I had no problem when GW Bush got his NDAA passed into law back when, even with the hideous provisions inclulded… because at the time I did not believe HE would use them for ill. But I OPPOSED that law on the principle that someone else, or even he after a change of heart, COULD and WOULD use those provisions for ill. Time has proven me right.

        This rule gives opportunity for abuse.. the fact none occurrred THIS TIME does not negate that. Therefore, this rule needs rescinded, permanently.

      2. “The Adjutant General is authorized and directed to sieze arms, ammunition, explosives, incendiary material and any other property that may be required by the military forces for their performance of this emergency mission…” (from the order itself)

        The emergency mission is to “mobilize such units of the National Guard as are necessary to maintain or restore public order, and to guarantee the safety of life and property.” (from the order itself)

        In an interview, the Governor stated that the order did not authorize the seizure of arms, etc., but instead authorized the Adjutant General to purchase equipment without following the standard requisition process. This flies in the face of “The Adjutant General is authorized and directed to sieze…” Seizure and emergency purchasing authority are inarguably different.

        If the Adjutant General, in her view of the world, believes the best way to “maintain or restore public order” or “to guarantee the safety of life and property” is for the National Guard to sieze the arms of every civilian they encounter, the AG has been given a direct order by her commander to do so.

        If the Adjutant General believes that the Governor believes the best way to “maintain or restore public order” or “to guarantee the safety of life and property” is for the National Guard to sieze the arms of every civilian they encounter, the AG has been given a direct order by her commander to do so.

        We can use the aftermath of Katrina to demonstrate that when any government agency siezes firearms from civilians in an emergency, no effort is made to ensure that the civilian is given a formal receipt which can be used to reclaim their property, or have it replaced with a new and comparable item. I see that the VI are fairly hostile to 2nd Amendment rights, so once seized, that firearm is nearly impossible to replace.

        Far too many federal court cases have proven that ignorance of the law IS an excuse when it is used by a government officer. If he can claim that he belived what he was doing was legal, he is immune from prosecution or civil action, even if his actions violated the civil rights of or resulted in the death of a person.

        1. Lets use words like they do.. i think its about time we start purchasing (seize) all public lands,buildings,and property back from the govt. and send all the corrupt officials all those ones that have enriched themselves while they were suppose to be working for us on a forced march across the country apologizing to everyone they meet. That goes for the left the right and the middle.

    8. Everytime something like this comes up all i can picture is that 85 pound grandmother getting body slammed and hip checked by a police officer that had to weigh 250+ I would love to know if that officer was ever held accountable or atleast made amends to that woman in some way.

      1. I thought about that a few times since Katrina!

        Given the news that Lois Lerner will not be prosecuted by the doj, despite her felonious Acts, I truly doubt that cop ever saw any repercussions from his illegal actions!

        1. It would be great if a reddit group hunted him down online and publicly outed him and his actions to make sure everyone that knows him knows what he did to that woman.

    9. No matter what governments say, those governments will do anything to survive. Your Constitutional Civil Rights are supposed to stop the illegal actions government officials, but they will not.
      The federal government, by direction of Ronald Reagan, developed the Continuation of Government Plan, (hereinafter COG). COG is practiced once a year by each agency. COG is no secret. COG includes the continuation of the various agencies, but not the elected government or our Constitution. Oh, and COG does not include your continuation, either.

    10. Sign the petition on Whitehouse.gov to remove Gov. Matt from office for his violation of the 2nd amendment rights and God-given natural right of self-protection of V.I. citizens.

    11. As I write this a friend with family on St. Thomas is reporting that there are people patrolling the streets armed with what she described as shotguns. She does not report them as part of any uniformed law enforcement and she surmises that they are doing this to protect their property.

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