When Hurricane Irma reaches Florida Sunday, the powerful storm might be greeted by 70,000 gun owners, armed and ready to fire at will.
At least, that’s according to a Facebook event titled Shoot At Hurricane Irma, which 24,000 people have said they would attend and another 52,000 indicated they were interested in as of 3 p.m. Saturday.
“YO SO THIS GOOFY LOOKING WINDY HEAD--- NAMED IRMA SAID THEY PULLING UP ON US,” the Facebook event’s description reads. “LETS SHOW IRMA THAT WE SHOOT FIRST ”
The event, created by Ryon Edwards and Dominic Apostolico, is set for 10 a.m. Sunday. Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida earlier that morning. The event’s location is fairly broad: It just says “Florida.”
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In an interview with BBC, Edwards, 22, said he made the Facebook event to “lighten the mood.”
He also said the page was the result of "a combination of stress and boredom.”
Hundreds of people have commented on the event. Some, like Robert McClain, reacted to the event with dry sarcasm.
“Yes, please record it so when we find the camera and gun in Georgia we will know what moron it used to belong to,” he wrote.
Others responded with sheer patriotism in the face of the frightening hurricane.
“Irma ain't got sh-- on us!” wrote Jordan Soluri “'Merica!”
And a few, including Melissa Overby, issued genuine pleas for help.
“Anyone near Winterhaven, Florida that can offer my cousin and her husband and kitty shelter?” she wrote. “She didn't realize it was illegal for her boss to threaten to fire her if she evacuated, so they stayed IN THEIR TRAILER, and now they're stuck. Any help or suggestions would be a godsend.”
While the event is ostensibly a joke, Florida does actually ease some gun laws during emergencies. A 2015 law signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott allows citizens without a concealed carry permit to carry a concealed gun for 48 hours during mandatory evacuation, according to Breitbart.
Already, over 5 million people have been ordered to evacuate from Florida, according to the Independent. That’s over a quarter of the state’s population.
As of 2 p.m. Saturday, Hurricane Irma had maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center. After Florida, it is expected to hit Georgia and Alabama early Tuesday, and Tennessee the following day.
With those states bracing for the violent hurricane, Edwards didn’t expect his event to garner such attention.
"The response is a complete and total surprise to me,” he told BBC. "I never envisioned this event becoming some kind of crazy idea larger than myself. It has become something a little out of my control."