It’s a safe bet that many Americans don’t know that the Caribbean island of St. Croix is actually American soil. Purchased from Denmark in 1917 along with St. Thomas, St. John, and a few other dots in the archipelago comprising the U.S. Virgin Islands, the island’s residents are U.S. citizens. Travel to and from the continental U.S., apart from the distance, is no more difficult than going to Wisconsin. Other than the when a hurricane or tropical storm comes near, the islands don’t make much news except when publishers need to fill space with a “best places to visit in the Caribbean” article . . .

That’s why I was surprised to read an article explaining that a state of emergency had been declared on the island of St. Croix this weekend – not because of bad weather, but because of bad actors. It seems that a so-called ‘gang war’ was in progress on that isle over the weekend….

The Virgin Islands Daily News has the story:

An uneasy peace settled on St. Croix on Sunday, with a state of emergency in effect and the community still on edge after one man was killed and at least seven other people were wounded in gun violence in several spots around the island Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

Police believe much of the violence was retaliatory, in what Police Commissioner Delroy Richards Sr. described as “gang warfare.”

The violence was notable for what some described as “indiscriminate shooting,” as well as its delicate locations – mid-afternoon outside a day care center; in housing communities in the early evening while it was still light, when children were playing; and along a well-traveled portion of Queen Mary Highway near Central High School on a Saturday morning….

“Once you’re talking about more than one individual, more than two individuals, it suggests to me that it is in fact an organized act,” [Richards] said. “And when you have these organized acts and you have a feud between one group against the other, I have to characterize that gang warfare, in a sense.”

Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter, who is acting governor while Gov. Kenneth Mapp is out of the territory, described the situation as “the wild, wild west.”

St. Thomas saw violence too, with one man killed in a brazen daylight shooting Thursday at Brewers Bay, followed by a shooting early Saturday that left two wounded in what police believe may be newest chapter in an old turf war….

One witness analogized the scene to a “combat zone”:

Former Sen. Holland Redfield, who has a home near the two housing communities, said in an interview that he witnessed the drive-by and it was like nothing he had ever seen.

“The only thing I can compare it with is being in a combat zone,” he said.

He spoke of automatic gunfire and of the residents of the community “in a panic.” He said a group of cars came in with front and back windows rolled down, men hanging out them, “shooting indiscriminately.”

“As it progressed, you could see the panic amongst the mothers of children playing outside,” he said, describing women grabbing children, opening apartment doors and throwing them inside.

According to Redfield, the cars did U-turns and came back to shoot some more.

“Residents of the community that were armed were returning fire,” he said. “It was like a combat zone. I’ve never seen anything like it. I hit the deck.”

Despite being American soil, the Virgin Islands are considered an “unincorporated territory”. Constitutionally, thanks to a series of 100-year-old Supreme Court decisions known as the Insular Cases, constitutional protections for basic civil liberties do not necessarily apply to residents of these American colonial possessions. The territory has very restrictive laws relating to firearm ownership and carriage. There are six different color-coded flavors of firearms licenses in the U.S.V.I.:

Pink – Law Enforcement, retired law enforcement, personal protection, special circumstances.

Blue – business protection

Green – target shooting, sports use and home protection
(With the target shooting license you must be a member of a gun club. The firearm must be unloaded when travelling to and from the range using the most direct route. The shooting range is on the St. Croix district only. Currently St. Thomas does not have a shooting range. Therefore no target shooting licenses are being issued in that district.

Yellow – home protection only (handguns) *For use ONLY at the residential address that is typed on the license*

Grey – farming ( long guns e.g. – rifles/shotguns)
(This license can also be used for boat and home protection)

White – all active law enforcement

The Firearms Rules and Regulations manual further states that licenses to carry firearms will only be issued to officers and employees of the Virgin Islands Government “where such license…should be issued…by virtue of the duties of his position,” bank guards, and any regular ordinary citizen “who establishes to the satisifaction of the Commissioner that he has good reason(s) to fear death or great injury to his person or property, or who establishes any other proper reason for carrying a firearm and the circumstances of the applicant and the testimony of at least two (2) credible persons, demonstrate the need for such license.”

Naturally, the U.S.V.I. does not recognize any firearms licenses issued by other American states or territories. In fact, the Virgin Islands’ police department website helpfully states:

The Firearms Unit recommends that you Do Not bring your States side licensed firearm into our beautiful islands if you will only be visiting for a short while.

If you bring firearms into the islands without contacting the Firearms Unit, you can have your firearm(s) confiscated and be prosecuted in accordance to the laws of the US Virgin Islands.

With that in mind, the perpetrators of the attacks in St. Croix this weekend were likely in violation of quite a few firearms laws. I will leave it up to readers to ponder the impact these laws had on the violence this weekend, and whether or not — if one were a law-abiding resident of St. Croix — one might think it a good idea to apply for one of those pink permits this week.

67 Responses to Big Trouble in the Virgin Islands

  1. Friend was in the Virgins after a hit by a hurricane. Said it was terrifying. The island in one day went from paradise to something out of a nightmare. Took US Navy to restore order. Cross “island ” vacations off my list.

    • That description could have applied to Charleston after Hugo hit. You chickens need to move to Oklahoma and never be allowed to leave ‘lest you get scared again.

      • Charleston is the exception, not the rule. Our community is much more stable and well armed than most. After Hugo, people went out of their way to help each other. Many residents were taken in for months by their neighbors while waiting on insurance companies to asses damage and pay out. Looting was at a minimum and was mostly restricted to “bad” neighborhoods.

        If you don’t know the facts on the ground, keep your mouth shut. Your assessment is a joke.

        • Lived through Hugo in St Croix… It was bad, the looting and other crime was also very bad. Army Military Police and US Marshals had to come in and restore order and assist the community. That’s something I will never forget.

      • “You chickens need to move to Oklahoma and never be allowed to leave ‘lest you get scared again.”

        Having lived in southwest Oklahoma, tornadoes are nothing to fvck around with.

        Dance, troll.

        That’s an order.

  2. And the typical first reaction will be to punish the licensed firearm owners because they must have contributed to the crime.

    This course of action has worked so well in other countries: England, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa…

    (sarc=off)

  3. Some residents returned fire. I wonder how many were legal gun owners. Where I live, most shootings are the Bloods and the Crips offing each other.

  4. That’s why I moved to Florida when I grew up on St.Croix In the early 1980’s it was a great place lack of investment in the youth not being able to defend yourself the cops got their guns the criminals have theirs the average citizens 0 it can take six months to a year to get a purchase permit to buy a gun and that’s at the police commissioner discretion if you don’t have connections your out of luck that gun battle that took place this weekend by some account lasted twenty minutes with not cops coming on scene until after it was over sucks.

    • There was plenty of investment, the problem is the completely base primitive tribalism and corruption that runs the islands. And continues to do so. The refinery closing due to that reality didn’t help.

      Their ‘government’ is as corrupt as any other 3rd world s-hole, the sad part is that Uncle Sugar keeps funding it. Turn off the free money and let them have to compete with the far more civilized BVI, swimming distance away. Turn the gov over to non-denizens and make it at least get into the 20th century.

      Save for Water Island, USVI is a ghetto dump with some nice resorts/condos that you should not venture more than a few meters out of. Were it not for the gun laws making every whitey a xenon strobe mark, I would have moved there a decade ago.

    • Which is really amusing as the force is well over 90% black. Judging by what I’ve seen on the ground and class photos, it’s almost 100% black.

  5. “Firearm carriers must contact the VIPD Firearms Unit within 24 hours of your arrival in the US Virgin Islands. According to VI law it is your responsibility to call 911 and ask dispatchers to make contact with the Firearms Supervisor on the respective island.”

    So when you get off the plane, call 911 and tell them you have a gun.

    Geez…

    • @pod, if you bring a gun by plane into AVI, you’ll be arrested. The notification requirement is really addressed to boaters. Piracy in the area is so common that every, and I men every, boat has firearms on it, mostly long guns.

      I don’t now what the rules are now, but a few years ago, when you sailed into the AVI, you notified the cops that you had guns on your boat, they came aboard to check that the guns were secure, and if they were you had no trouble from the police. In fact, I was under the distinct impression that the cops thought you were nuts if your boat wasn’t armed.

  6. Holy crap, we made the headlines on TTAG!

    Yea, about those pink coupons: Good luck getting a carry license if you don’t own a business or happen to know someone in the VIPD. It’s a lengthy process and they often turn people away. It helps alot to be a member of either D&J or ST.Croix Marksmanship if you want a home defense permit.

    Just getting the purchase coupon, which you have to do before buying a gun, can take months. My own record was a wait of three months to have a rifle approved. The office is entirely paper driven and still moves at a snails pace despite recent improvements.
    Its not helped by the fact that permits only last three years. So you have to bring all your weapons back to the station for inspection and a new permit (which means more fees and more waiting).

    What they approve and what they deny is also somewhat random. I’ve been turned down for 45 but approved on 9mm. I’ve heard of people who got 308 but couldn’t get a 223.
    Its not all bad news. People are trying to fight back, but the local government isn’t very good about helping.

    http://vifreepress.com/2015/09/armed-pizza-customer-distracts-armed-gunmen-with-shots-fired-of-his-own/

  7. I believe that the virgin islands has a per capita murder rate that is amongst the worst in the world. Part of that is a cultural history of retribution and revenge. I hate to see gang activity such as is being described. Years ago, before I became a POTG I remember visiting Puerto Rico on a cruise ship, just for an afternoon. I was so surprised and saddened to see rifle-toting police officers patrolling the tourist districts. Only later did I learn how the National Guard has to be called out to provide law-enforcement given the drug and gang criminal activity in Puerto Rico. No wonder many want statehood, more money to the island, and “regular” Second Amendment rights for its citizens.

  8. There are lots of seriously dangerous drug dealers and gangs in AVI. One of my friends was a prosecutor there. He put away a drug kingpin for a lengthy sentence. A few days later, threats were made and the Feds removed him from St. Thomas under cover of darkness for his own protection.

    St. Thomas has friendly people, a nice climate and a beautiful coastline. If you’ve ever seen Magens Bay, you know what I mean. But underneath the beauty there is an underside that’s altogether ugly and dangerous.

      • BVI, which is a stone’s throw away, has almost none of the problems that affect USVI. They have a gov that is not by the animals, for the animals, of the animals. To be fair, they are also nowhere near as populated.

        • BVI gun laws are simple – you can’t own any. But that’s not the driver – it’s government which is not the 3rd world corruption of the USVI, and it’s cultural – the people are more civilized. There’s still the usual break-ins and muggings, but they are few and far between by comparison.

    • Root of the problem,,the war on drugs. Is it really worth it, considering all of the gangland violence and corruption that ensues. Just look what our war on drugs has done, to every city in the US, and globally. Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. The millions of innocent lives lost in the pursuit of a drug free world has cost way more than the drugs themselves could have ever caused. And we criminally scar people here in the US for life, if they are charged for a victim less personal choice. We have spent Billions of dollars of taxpayer money with no results for we the people,,only for the government and its prison contractors. When prohibition started (really in the 1970’s), 1.3% of the population did drugs,,,guess friggin what!,,,we still have 1.3% of the population doing drugs. The war on drugs and prohibition IS the cause of all the gangland violence, the entire northern Mexican border ruled by drug lords, Columbia, Brazil, the poppy fields in Pakistan that our troops completely,,and I mean completely,,, friggin ignored,(guess why folks?) no,,,really look into it. We as a “free” people here in the United States of America,,really need to look at why,,as the land of the free,home of the brave,has the highest prison population per capita, than any other nation on earth. And almost all of them are victimless crimes from the war on drugs. And with the forfiture laws we have pretty much given up our 4th Amendment rights. The war on drugs needs to end. Education and rehabilitation is the only answer.

  9. Any case involving fundamental rights would apply in an unincorporated territory.

    Guam is unincorporated but the Ada case applied “fundamental rights” to the territory. Even the insular cases said “fundamental rights” apply to all territories.

  10. Went once, will never go back. The “deals” in town are no better than your average Googler could find stateside, the beach is about a whopping 12 deep feet front to back, and there are these annoying, vagrant iguanas everywhere trying to eat the fruit out of your drink. If I’m going on vacation to a tropical locale that requires I disarm, I can definitely find a better spot.

  11. Maintaining gun control there is about as successful as keeping drugs out. It’s an island for cryin’ out loud! Smugglers can land just about anywhere they want and bring in anything thy want. No wonder the gangs have easy access to automatic weapons. They’re probably better armed than the cops.

    • Among all the other arguments RE: the futility of gun-control, there is also the fact of the USVI and PR. We think that the US borders to Mexico and Canada are “porous”; consider that there is NO border between these two territories and the US mainland.
      A USVI native explained the issue with respect to drugs. Residents on the island have cartons and container-loads of supplies shipped to them. E.g., a container of cinder-blocks to build a house. The containers are returned to the US, generally “empty” where they are unloaded and returned to the inventory of available containers. Just as you would assume that a container moving from NY to NJ is free of any sort of inspection, a container moving from a US territory to the mainland is free of any inspection; including Customs inspection.

      Drug shipments originate in South America; loaded into civil aviation aircraft with a flight plan slated for the BVI. Traveling over the ocean surrounding the USVI, the cargo is jettisoned at a carefully mapped point. It’s picked-up by SCUBA divers and enters the USVI free of any customs inspection. (The plane landed empty in BVI; sojourns for a day or so, then returns to South America.) The drugs wind up in a container bound to be returned to the US mainland.

      US exporters could get licenses to export US manufactured guns to South America; whereupon, they could return to the US via the same itinerary as drugs.

      The only reason this flow might not be happening now is that stolen guns have a zero cost-of-goods-sold and zero distribution cost. Straw-bought guns are fully loaded with CGS and distribution; a tip to the young lady adds little to the cost.

      Imagining that somehow gun burglary could be stopped and straw-buying curtailed, the black-market premium on guns would rise to the point where the cost of smuggling would be overcome.

  12. Lived on St. Croix a short time and can say it was odd. Met some nice people, but those were typically from the States. It is supposed to be like you are in the US, but make no mistake, you quickly learn you are not. Hearing of something like this happen doesn’t shock me as there was clearly some unfriendly characters around. You can’t have a firearm but you can have an open beer while you drive. You will be driving down a back road when the scent of green marijuana overtakes you. You mean the cops don’t smell it? And the money their Gov’t get from the mainland, well, it sort of often doesn’t get used the way it is intended too. IMHO, don’t go there.

  13. I looked up the racial demographics of this island, and I wasn’t surprised by what I read.

    Allowing territories full of low-IQ and crime prone racial groups to remain under U.S. control gives them easy access to the mainland. We’re getting invaded by the 3rd world enough as it is. Making it even easier for them is suicidal.

    And the problem isn’t gun laws. You could pass Constitutional Carry or enact extremely strict gun regulations. High violent crime rates tend to follow “Hispanics” (Mestizos and Amerinds) and blacks all across the entire world. Yeah, arming the law-abiding members of their societies would probably help a bit, but when your society is infested with crime, it’s usually a racially-caused problem that can’t really be fixed with more civilian gun ownership.

    So, the real lesson to be learned here is that we White people need to keep these crime-prone racial groups the heck away from us. But go ahead and ban me for daring to state the ugly truth.

    • I’d hate to tell you, but the locals have been there since they were brought there as slaves in the colonial era. These islands were invaded, but they were invaded when white people killed all the Indians.

      So you’re a racist and you don’t know History. Good combo…

    • I am convinced that it really is not racial or genetic. It is cultural. Where you do not have any belief that the government is reliable, officials honest, or justice available through the judicial system, you get these results.

      Not an easy fix, but it can be done. It may take two or three generations. Guns are only a minor component, but fair and legal access to them could help to legitimize the government.

      It has not helped that the major political party in the U.S. has been spreading the meme that the government is unreliable and that police will not treat black people fairly, for 50 years.

      • “Where you do not have any belief that the government is reliable, officials honest, or justice available through the judicial system, you get these results.”

        Read Roth’s American Homicide. He makes precisely this point. He also adds, as a tertiary driving variable, the extent to which men feel that their status in the social hierarchy is vulnerable.

        The good news is that Roth’s independent variables are substantially within the control of the people in a republic with democratic suffrage. The bad news is that we the People have demonstrated that we WILL NOT alter these independent variables in a direction that will promote reliability in government, honesty in officials, or blind justice; nor will we refrain from disparaging men’s social status. We’re toast.

  14. Spent some time in St. Croix as a consultant a few years ago. We had a great time and for the most part, it is a lovely place, but I was really glad to get back to Florida when my time was up. That trip cured me forever of a long held fantasy of living and working in the Caribbean. It’s a 3rd word country with all of the associated problems; trash everywhere, people who complain about not having jobs but wont work when you give them one. Most of the employees at the old refinery were from Puerto Rico as far as I could tell because the locals wouldn’t work.
    It’s a shame, it really is.

    • A lot of people who say they want a “job” really mean that they want a “paycheck”.

      The idea of providing value for value is undermined by the idea that “The Man” is always exploiting you. Cultural Maxism is corrosive to civilization.

      • Having a job never did me any good. Work was never worth doing until I started my own company. Now I get paid a lot less, but at least I have a fighting chance to get ahead. I never had a job that could pay for itself. Too many expenses imposed by a job.

  15. Damn! I thought the US Virgin Islands were one of the better places in the Caribbean. It was on my list of places to visit if the chance ever came up. Damn….

  16. Well in the end it’s this kind of thing That’s going to run off most of the statesiders and what you are left with is a group of people with the social development levels of 17 year olds. Certainly on a fast track to Haiti.

  17. Maybe someone could take it over? It would be good practice for taking NY and Shitcago back, then going after Miami, Boston, Seattle, CA. . . Foreign players are practically being invited.

    Go down there, f stuff up, blame the crazy locals. . . wait, that sounds like the situation in the OP, hmmm?

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