The National Rifle Association (NRA) announced Tuesday the organization is ready to engage in a legal battle to stop the government in the U.S. Virgin Islands from seizing personal firearms and ammunition ahead of Hurricane Irma, which had strengthened to a Category 5 storm that has caused major damage in the eastern Caribbean.

The order was signed by governor of the territory, Kenneth Mapp.

“People need the ability to protect themselves during times of natural disaster,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, the organization’s lobbying arm. “This dangerous order violates the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and puts their lives at risk.”

Civil judges can now issue orders against individuals, reported by friends or family, that would authorize police to seize their firearms.

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According to this post from, after the destruction inflicted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin established a similar order.

The NRA also intervened then, the post says, stopping confiscations. The court ultimately ordered officials returned the firearms that had been seized.

The story says Congress then passed legislation to prevent the confiscation of legal firearms from law-abiding citizens during emergencies. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law in 2006.

“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,” Cox said in the story.

You can learn more about gun confiscation during and after Hurricane Katrina in the video below from