On September 4, US Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth E. Mapp released an order to the Adjutant General of the islands to mobilize the local National Guard to keep order. In the directive, the governor ordered that all arms and ammunition be seized.

An excerpt reads:

“In accordance with Title 23 Section 1522, Virgin Islands Code, 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 thye 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." 

In an interview with Fox News show host Tucker Carlson, Mapp disavowed the order. “I did not order or authorize the Adjutant General of the Virgin Islands National Guard to seize any weapons from any citizens, and I do not have the power,” Mapp said, “— by Virgin Islands law or by the Constitution of the United States — to seize weapons from citizens via the military.”


Mapp said the order does empower the Adjutant General “to seize arms, ammunition, explosives, incendiary material.” He then claimed that the order merely meant that the National Guard could purchase such items from vendors on the island if they lacked the firearms needed to restore order:

“[The Adjutant General] has the authorization to spend government resources and acquire. We don’t seize property without due compensation to the property owner, after the appropriate assessment.” 

Mapp also attempted to draw a distinction between “seizing weapons and other property that may be required by military forces,” and “seizing weapons and other property from citizens,” which he said was not mentioned in the executive order.

In the interview with Carlson, Mapp said that the order does not allow the Adjutant General to “go into people’s homes” to seize property but to merely acquire property “as the government acquires property on the open market.” He claimed that the executive order allows the Adjutant General to buy guns and ammo from retailers without having to “go through the procurement processes of the government.” However, this detail was omitted from the order, which cited numerous laws of the Virgin Islands. 

Above is a video posted by Jenn Manes of News of St. John on her personal Facebook account. Reportedly, there is currently no Internet service on the island of St. John. However, Manes' father -- who resides in Connecticut -- has reported that he has received text messages from her saying that Coast Guard ships are on their way.

History of chaos in the US Virgini Islands

Residents of the Virgin Islands have reason to fear disorder, and even the guardians of order. In 1989, George H.W. Bush ordered more than 1,100 military police from Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, and Fort Leonard Wood, to restore order on the islands in the wake of Hurricane Hugo and widespread looting and shooting on St. Croix. This was in addition to sending six Coast Guard vessels to the islands to rescue terrified residents and tourists. Armed Coast Guards were on-board. The erstwhile governor of the islands, Alexander Farrelly, claimed that “there was no near state of anarchy” in his jurisdiction. He said that he had not requested federal troops

However, witnesses described a complete breakdown of civil authority. According to refugees arriving in Miami and news service accounts, armed gangs roamed the streets with rifles, looting and shooting at will. Local police officers and National Guardsmen were also among the looters. According to the Coast Guard at the time, initial reports from one of the Coast Guard cutters indicated that the situation ashore was “serious.” Officials said, ''Looting and civil disturbances are continuing,'' the officials said. The crews of the cutters were evacuating all persons who feared for their safety. Some people were airlifted aboard a C-130 Air Force plane that had brought in 100 FBI agents and deputy US marshals who were sent by Attorney General Richard Thornburgh.

In a statement on Tuesday, the National Rifle Association announced its “strong opposition” to Mapp’s order and threatened a lawsuit. “People need the ability to protect themselves during times of natural disaster,” Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action said. “This dangerous order violates the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and puts their lives at risk.” The NRA filed suit after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, claiming the the City of New Orleans violated the US Constitution when Mayor Ray Nagin signed an order to seize guns and other weapons, ahead of a forced evacuation from those still living in areas affected by the storm and flooding.

Currently, looters armed with machetes and pistols are feared by residents of St Maarten -- an island colony of The Netherlands in the Antilles. The Dutch Navy has landed marines on the island, dressed in battle gear, to quell disturbances. Residents are coping with the lack of potable water and electricity while security forces seek to restore order.



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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