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.

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Wild Bill
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Wild Bill

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?

Repo
Guest
Repo

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.

Stella B
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Stella B

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.

BikerDad
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BikerDad

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)… Read more »

Eaglesnester
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Eaglesnester

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?

Tony Delserone
Guest
Tony Delserone

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.

John Sofranko
Guest
John Sofranko

The last time a severe hurricane hit the army was caught looting. I guess they just want it legal now.

explainist
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explainist

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

Tionico
Guest
Tionico

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… Read more »

Chameleon
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Chameleon

“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… Read more »

Repo
Guest
Repo

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.

Repo
Guest
Repo

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.

JR Bailey
Guest
JR Bailey

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!

Repo
Guest
Repo

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.

Wild Bill
Guest
Wild Bill

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.

Tony Delserone
Guest
Tony Delserone

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.

Wild Bill
Guest
Wild Bill

@TD, Have you got the link, brother?

kevikens
Guest
kevikens

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.

Ross Campbell
Guest
Ross Campbell

Must be protecting against antifa too

Herman Gothe
Guest
Herman Gothe

All 15 registered gun owners?