Virgin Islands gives National Guard authority to seize guns, ammo ahead of Hurricane Irma

Virgin Islands confiscate seize guns

On Monday, Kenneth Knapp, governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Commander-in-Chief of the Virgin Islands National Guard, issued an emergency order that gives troops the authority to “seize arms, ammunition, explosives, incendiary material and any other property” they may need to respond in order to respond to Hurricane Irma.

According to the Daily Caller:

Mapp issued an emergency declaration Tuesday and mobilized National Guard units to prepare for the massive storm.

“This is not an opportunity to go outside and try to have fun with a hurricane,” Mapp said. “It’s not time to get on a surfboard.”

Irma strengthened to a Category 5 storm Tuesday, with wind gusts hitting 175 miles an hour. Irma’s eye is expected to pass just north of the heart of the U.S. Virgin Islands on Wednesday and bring four to eight inches or rain and 60-mile-per-hour wind gusts.

The order, which can be seen here, became effective at 12:01 Tuesday morning and will only be terminated by Knapp’s written or verbal order.

“I`m not sure how seizing my guns will help them prepare for this storm,” one person said in response.

“Funny – the National Guard confiscated guns after Katrina, too. I guess the Governor of the USVI is just being proactive,” another person added at another forum.

In 2015, the NRA wrote:

The disorder of (Hurricane Katrina’s) aftermath – and the inability of local law enforcement to contain it – brought into stark realization the importance of the right to keep and bear arms in order to provide for the defense of oneself, loved ones, and community. Stories of looting and violence abounded. A police chief described post-Katrina New Orleans by stating, “it was like Mogadishu.”

Despite their inability to cope with the resulting mayhem, several days after the storm passed New Orleans officials ordered the confiscation of lawfully-owned firearms from city residents. In a September 8, 2005 article, the New York Times described the scene, stating, “Local police officers began confiscating weapons from civilians in preparation for a forced evacuation of the last holdouts still living here… Police officers and federal law enforcement agents scoured the city carrying assault rifles seeking residents who have holed up to avoid forcible eviction.”

As reported by the Washington Post, New Orleans Superintendent P. Edwin Compass made clear, “No one will be able to be armed,” and, “Guns will be taken. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns.” At the time, NRA Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre noted the nature of the seizures, stating, “In many cases, it was from their homes at gunpoint. There were no receipts given or anything else at a time when there was no 911 response and these citizens were out there on their own protecting their families.”

According to the NRA, city authorities were apparently selective about enforcing the order.

One report cited by the NRA said the city’s order “apparently does not apply to the hundreds of security guards whom businesses and some wealthy individuals have hired to protect their property… Mr. Compass said that he was aware of the private guards but that the police had no plans to make them give up their weapons.”

Regarding the hurricane, ABC News said:

Hurricane Irma grew into a dangerous Category 5 storm, the most powerful seen in the Atlantic in over a decade, and roared toward islands in the northeast Caribbean Tuesday on a path that could eventually take it to the United States.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Irma was a “potentially catastrophic” storm with maximum sustained winds of 180 mph (285 kph) as it bore down on the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. It was centered about 225 miles (365 kilometers) east of Antigua in the late morning and moving west at 14 mph (22 kph).

The center said there was a growing possibility that the storm’s effects could be felt in Florida later this week and over the weekend, though it was still too early to be sure of its future track: “Everyone in hurricane-prone areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place.”

Irma’s center was expected to move over portions of the northern Leeward Islands late Tuesday and early Wednesday, the hurricane center said. The eye was then expected to pass about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Puerto Rico late Wednesday.

The NRA filed a lawsuit in the wake of Katrina and a temporary restraining order was issued by Judge Jay Zainey.

“Currently,” the NRA said, “over half of the states have some form of emergency powers provision protecting gun owners from government abuse during a crisis.”

Meanwhile, we have to ask: Is the Virgin Islands National Guard so ill-equipped it has to confiscate personal firearms and ammunition?

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