74.2 F
Cruz Bay
Tuesday, March 21, 2023


Aug. 14, 2001 – Sen. Emmet Hansen II was incredulous, "disappointed and angry" Tuesday morning as he reacted to the news that Gov. Charles W. Turnbull had vetoed the gun-control bill Hansen sponsored. "The governor told me last week he had signed it," Hansen said. "I am thoroughly disgusted with the spinelessness of it."
A late-night release Monday from Government House announced that the governor had vetoed the measure.
Hansen, who is off island on vacation, reiterated in a long-distance telephone call Tuesday morning what he had told the Source last Wednesday: of receiving a telephone call from the governor that day saying he had signed the measure. (See "Turnbull signs gun-control bill into law".)
"I don't know if I'm irate or just sick at my stomach," Hansen said. "This veto really comes as a slap in the face. I would hate to think it was a punitive measure because of my switch." Hansen changed his alignment from the Senate minority to the majority bloc in July. The governor, however, has been courting majority support for his legislative proposals.
Hansen said he isn't worried about the bill's final outcome. "We will override the veto," he said. "The bill has 12 sponsors — they'll be fighting one another to override it." A Senate override of a veto takes 10 votes.
The bill went through a thorough review and gained the endorsement of all local and federal law enforcement agencies, Hansen said. "The governor's own Department of Justice approved it," he noted. "The fact of the matter is that criminals are not going to get any softer. If we expect this community to be safer, we have to have tougher laws."
On the "Opening Doors" talk show on WVWI/Radio One Tuesday morning, the governor said, "I told Sen. Hansen I would sign the bill, but then I saw the section about forfeiting property where illegal weapons were found, and I couldn't sign that." In his letter to Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd advising the Legislature of his veto, Turnbull said that nobody should lose their home because "some culprit has hidden one illegal bullet in it without the owner's knowlege."
"I was going to sign the bill," Turnbull said on the radio show, "but when I saw that part, I had to veto it."
Told over the telephone of the governor's comments, Hansen was incredulous. "I can't believe it," he said. "Hiding bullets in someone's home? How obtuse can you be?" He added, "And didn't he read the whole thing before he talked to me?"
According to Hansen, the forfeiture provision of the bill is intended to stem the flow of illegal weapons into the territory. "It's expressly for persons who are smuggling weapons in here, not the little street criminal," he said. "The big guys have to hide their weapons, their cache, somewhere — that's what we are targeting."
He added that any property forfeiture would be at the discretion of the prosecutor. "If you're renting, there's no way the landlord would be responsible," he said.
Sens. Carlton Dowe and Donald "Ducks" Cole and members of the V.I. Justice Department, U.S. Attorney's office, V.I. Housing Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation, local and federal Marshals Services and the Police Department worked with him on the bill from January, Hansen said. "It has had the most thorough review," he said, and he has received letters of endorsement from Attorney General Iver Stridiron, Police Commissioner Franz Christian, Police Chief Jose Garcia and executive assistant U.S. Attorney Azekah Jennings.
Hansen said police statistics show a two-thirds drop in gun crimes in the months of June and July. His bill was introduced in May. "Then, because of the governor's inaction on the bill, the statistics have crept back up," he charged. The bill arrived on the governor's desk on Aug. 1.
Hansen said he'll be back at work Thursday, "and you can believe I'm calling the governor first thing."

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.