U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp extended an order allowing the National Guard to seize arms from civilians.
Mapp, an independent, signed an executive order in September that stated the Adjutant General is “authorized and directed to seize arms, ammunition… and any other property that may be required by the military forces for the performance of this emergency mission.”
The order declaring a state of emergency and putting the state’s national guard in active duty came ahead of Hurricane Irma’s impact on the USVI. Two Category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, both devastated the USVI this fall, and Mapp declared on December 1 an extension of his previous order to last through January 4, 2018.
Gov. Mapp told TheDC in a phone interview Thursday that the national guard “is not authorized to take arms and munitions from civilians,” and complained that he continues to receive “foolish” questions about this.
The Sept. 4 order, however, explicitly gives authorization to “seize” arms and ammunition.
Mapp said that this language is in “every declaration or activation of the national guard” that came before he took office. And added that it doesn’t allow Adjunct General Deborah Howell to “take weapons from civilians without proper compensation.”
“People need the ability to protect themselves during times of natural disaster,” Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, said in September in regards to Mapp’s order. “This dangerous order violates the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and puts their lives at risk.”
In response to Hurricane Katrina, then-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin allowed the confiscation of weapons.
An amendment to legislation signed by President George W. Bush in 2006 prohibits “persons acting under color of federal law, receiving federal funds, or acting at the direction of a federal employee from seizing or authorizing the seizure of lawfully-possessed firearms or imposing or enforcing certain restrictions on firearms during a state of emergency.”