It’s a sad reality, but authorities using disasters as an excuse to encroach on the rights of citizens is nothing new. In times of crisis, people are often far too willing to trade freedom for a false sense of security, but as Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Now, in the latest example of authorities using disasters to seize liberties, the governor of the Virgin Islands is using Hurricane Irma as an excuse to justify widespread gun and ammo confiscations. On September 5th, Gov. Kenneth Mapp signed an emergency order that will allow the seizure of guns, ammo, explosives, and any other such supplies that “may be required by the military forces for the performance of this emergency mission.” Of course, the idea that the National Guard of the Virgin Islands actually needs to seize guns and ammo from citizens in order to respond to a hurricane is nothing short of absurd. Nevertheless, the gun-grabbing Gov. Mapp is jumping at the opportunity to even remotely justify gun and ammo confiscation.
The good news is that this blatant encroachment of liberty is not going unnoticed. The executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, Chris W. Cox said, “People need the ability to protect themselves during times of natural disaster. This dangerous order violates the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and puts their lives at risk.”
In response to Gov. Mapp’s order, the NRA is considering legal action. Mr. Cox went on to say, “When 911 is non-existent and law enforcement personnel are overwhelmed with search-and-rescue missions and other emergency duties, law-abiding American citizens must be able to protect their families and loved ones. The NRA is prepared to pursue legal action to halt Gov. Mapp’s dangerous and unconstitutional order.”
This would not be the first time the NRA pursued legal action against government authorities who attempt to use natural disasters as an excuse for seizing guns and ammo from citizens. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin signed an order very similar to the one signed by Gov. Mapp in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The lawsuit filed by the NRA then claimed that the Mayor Nagin was violating the constitutional rights of citizens in New Orleans and leaving them at the mercy of gangs and looters who were roaming the city at the time.
After this incident, Congress passed the 2006 Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act in order to prevent government authorities from using natural disasters as an excuse for guns and ammo seizure. However, since the Virgin Islands are a territory of the United States rather than a state, they are not entirely bound by this legislation. Nevertheless, the actions of Gov. Mapp are troubling not only for gun owners in the Virgin Islands but also for gun owners in the United States and the world at large. Gun confiscation is a dangerous, slippery slope that must not be allowed no matter the circumstance. We can only hope that Gov. Mapp’s decision to use what is shaping up to be one of the worst natural disasters in history as an excuse to strip freedoms from his constituents is one that is met with serious consequences.
~ American Gun News