Police tell Facebook group not to fire guns at hurricane

Commentary: An 80,000-strong Facebook group bands together to "show Irma that we shoot first." Florida police take to Twitter to try to stop it.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

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This is not a good idea.

Barry Lewis

Facebook is home to many peculiar gatherings.

Some may be more offensive than others.

However, as Hurricane Irma barreled its way to Florida on Sunday, causing more devastation, one event group decided to make a stand. Or so it seemed.

The "Shoot at Hurricane Irma" Facebook event group offered these simple words of encouragement to everyone out there: "O SO THIS GOOFY LOOKING WINDY HEADASS NAMED IRMA SAID THEY PULLING UP ON U, LETS SHOW IRMA THAT WE SHOOT FIRST."

Oddly, this attracted more than 80,000 people, with 27,000 of them insisting they would attend the event, which was to begin at 10 a.m. Another 54,000 said they were interested.

Many might have thought this was a joke. Yet, the minute such things appear on social media, some are going to take it seriously.

This drove the Pasco County Sheriff's Office to take to Twitter and implore: "To clarify, DO NOT shoot weapons @ #Irma. You won't make it turn around & it will have very dangerous side effects."

Did this need to be explained? It seems that it did.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence also intervened on Twitter: "Unfortunately we must issue the following warning DO NOT SHOOT YOUR GUNS AT THE HURRICANE!!!"

The two organizers of the Facebook group, Ryon Edwards and Zeke Murphy, are both residents of Deland, Florida. 

Edwards told me that he was "very surprised" that the group became so big.

"I figured no one would take this seriously, but, like anything can, this got a bit out of hand," he told me. 

What's clear from the Facebook comments is that at least some took the idea seriously. Yes, someone really did post a picture of their husky with a gun in a holster. 

Facebook commenter Larry Larson scolded the creators: "When you attempt sarcasm in print -- and do so very poorly -- you need to understand that at least half the gun-owning population is as stupid as you are, and will follow through, endangering others needlessly."

Others, though, took the humor in reasonable heart. 

"I had to shoot at the hurricane in self-defense. It was coming right at me!," offered Jonathan Cowley-Thom.

Still, the whole thing hasn't been without its personal unpleasantness for Edwards. 

"Some people are saying their going to sue me or call the cops," he told me.

Facebook seems to have become the home of messaging that might be funny, might be nonsense and might even have ulterior motives.

Far more important at this time is that people use it to help those who are suffering and will suffer from Irma's fury.

Updated 12.09pm: adds comment from Edwards