Can we be blunt for just a second?
The Bill of Rights, and other rights guaranteed under the Constitution, are a list of “inalienable” RIGHTS. What are rights? Rights are a guarantee, something which CANNOT be taken away from you. Our freedom of speech, our freedom of religion, our right to peaceably assemble, our right to bear arms, our right to defend our lives and our property, our right to a free press, our right to not be forced to house soldiers during times of peace, our right to due process. These things are ours, almost absolutely, and the government cannot infringe upon these rights without extreme reason to do so.
A hurricane is not reason to do so.
Sadly, the registered Republican (though he ran as an Independent) Governor of the Virgin Islands doesn’t agree and there doesn’t seem to be enough time to stop him from undermining the Bill of Rights and infringing on the rights of his citizens, before Hurricane Irma hits.
Governor Kenneth Mapp (I) has signed an executive order allowing the (unconstitutional) seizure of guns, ammo, explosives, and other property that the National Guard might need to respond to Hurricane Irma. The Governor’s Order directs Adjutant General Deborah Howell “to take whatever actions she considers necessary to carry out the assigned mission” which was to maintain and restore public order and to guarantee the safety of life and property.
“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.”
While the Governor failed to explain how the guns and ammo could help the National Guard respond to a storm, I can tell you how this executive order could actually accomplish the direct opposite of guaranteeing “the safety of life and property.”
After a storm of this magnitude batters a community, the first responders are consumed with helping the most needy survive. The police, the fire department, the emergency medical crews, and the National Guard will all find their time filled with helping save the lives of those immediately imperiled by the storm. That means when other citizens find themselves (or their property) in danger, not from the storm or its aftermath, but from other people, there will be no one left to help. It’s at this point that those citizens will need their firearms and because of Governor Mapp, it’s at this point they’ll be left defenseless and victimized.
The NRA is threatening Governor Mapp with legal action but there isn’t much they can do in the short time frame before the storm hits.
Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’S Institute for Legislative Action argued that “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.” Cox continued, “When 911 is nonexistent 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.”
Governor Mapp’s Order is creating more peril for the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands, not less, and he should countermand the order as soon as possible.