On a daily basis, government officials at all levels make decisions and take steps that are, to put it mildly, without basis in our Constitution, or are in direct contravention of that magnificent document. As bad as these actions are, most citizens do not consider them fundamental or flagrant abuses of the Constitution (though they should). Most Americans still believe that the government operates in their best interests and according to the terms of the Constitution.
The government likes it that way. But, as we have seen just recently, it is merely a lack of opportunity, not desire, holding government back. Unfortunately, such opportunities are always one “emergency” away.
In advance of Hurricane Irma, U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp issued an order that the territory’s National Guard is “authorized and directed to seize arms, ammunitions, explosives, incendiary material and any other property that may be required by the military forces” (emphasis added). Presumably, the edict was predicated on the need to maintain order and safety of USVI citizens within lawful bounds. But that is not what it said.
The shocking order was reminiscent of one issued in 2005 by New Orleans officials in the days following Hurricane Katrina, confiscating private firearms from citizens (in many instances, forcibly) who remained in their homes to protect themselves and their property from looters. “No one will be able to be armed,” New Orleans Police Chief Edwin Compass told the Washington Post at the time. “Guns will be taken. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns.”
But unlike New Orleans’ unconstitutional order, Mapp’s goes even further, calling for the seizure not just of firearms but of “any other property.” What does that mean? Conceivably anything the National Guard wants – food, money, cars, houses. The sheer scope of the order is breathtaking, as…