By David Codrea
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.
And an angry outcry from gun owners prompted a defensive response from Government House:
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.