Mariana Islands New Law Dubbed The SAFE ACT Bans Firearms: GUNS TO BE CONFISCATED
The good people of the Mariana Islands today are less safe. They are less safe today because they have been stripped of the right to bear arms. They have been banned from protecting themselves and their families. The SAFE ACT does nothing to make these people any safer. The draconian gun law goes to far as to ban sling shots. Why is it that when the government wants to strip rights away from it’s citizens it names the law the exact opposite of what it really is? Take the great examples of the Patriot Act and now the SAFE Act. Why is this important? Well as you may or may not know the Mariana Islands are a U.S. Territory.
The Special Act for Firearm Enforcement, or SAFE Act, has been inked into law after Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed the bill yesterday morning, to regulate the possession of firearms in the Commonwealth.
Some two weeks after the U.S. District Court for the NMI struck down the CNMI 40-year old ban on handguns, Torres signed the landmark legislation that, among others, bans assault weapons, requires trigger locks on firearms, addresses expected increase in firearm violence by establishing new crimes, and creates gun free zones around public and private places.
Senate Bill 19-94 and its amendment is now Public Law 19-42. Torres signed the bill before a crowd of Cabinet members, law enforcement officials, lawmakers, and CNMI Attorney General Edward Manibusan, whose office had drafted and pushed the bill through both houses of the Legislature in the wake of the court ruling.
During the signing event, Torres acknowledged that with handguns allowed in the CNMI, law enforcement would have to approach cars differently, and that “first priority” would be to get them bullet proof vests, which means “not just extra funds but also extra care for our law enforcement out there.”
Torres wants regulations to be “as strict as possible” and does not mind if the CNMI’s regulations were the strictest regulations around.
“I don’t think there is anyone in this office,” Torres also said, who wants to “see handguns in the streets.”
Manibusan, for his part, spoke to the “orientation” that law enforcement would need with the new law, which he called a “tool,” in place, and said he would be meeting with them in the coming days.
He described the bill as one with “strong language that ensures the safety of gun owners and citizens.” He also thanked law enforcement, and all those who supported the bill.
“This is a day where we should be happy that gun control should be put in place,” said Manibusan. “But it’s not really a happy day. This is not something we want in the Commonwealth, the proliferation of handguns.”
“There is a still a long wait to go,” he said, to provide strict guidelines and regulations to enforce the law.
Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan), among the body of House lawmakers who added a slew of amendments to expand “gun free” zones to daycare centers and clinics, said these new zones for children were drafted to get a “degree of contentment for families.”
Demapan said yesterday it was very important to have protections in place as the law enforcement “duties and jurisdiction landscape drastically change.”
“We are trying not to make it difficult for people, we are trying to make it safe,” he said.
On Friday, Manibusan wrote to Torres to declare the proposed SAFE Act legally sufficient
He noted, though, one concern, which could suggest future challenges to the gun law, as the scope and rights of the Second Amendment are being debated in higher courts.
Manibusan was speaking to a House of Representatives amendment to impose a $1,000 excise tax on pistols.
He said although taxing jurisdictions are given broad discretionary authority to impose taxes to protect general welfare, he was concerned that the $1,000 tax per pistol may be “too excessive and unreasonably infringes on an individual’s fundamental right protected by the Second Amendment.” He added, though, that this office was “prepared to defend” this provision of the bill.
“There are several cases involving gun control and the scope of the Second Amendment that are before the federal courts including a case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dealing with controls on the carrying of firearms in public places,” Manibusan said, in his two-page letter Friday. “Indeed, that same issue remains pending in the district court in Murphy v. Deleon Guerrero,” he added, referring to another case challenging the CNMI’s gun law.
“My office will continue to monitor the case law as these issues move through the federal courts and make recommend changes to Commonwealth law as deemed necessary,” he added.
The SAFE Act fills the void in regulations that were left in the wake of U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona Manglona’s widely unpopular ruling to side with David J. Radich and his wife Li-Rong, who had challenged the constitutionality of the CNMI Weapons Control Act that prohibited all residents from obtaining handguns for self-defense purposes.
Many in the NMI believe, though, that the CNMI had complied with the Second Amendment with its permit of guns like .410 shotguns and .22 caliber rifles.
However, Manglona, in ruling in favor of the Radich couple, cited the Supreme Court’s earlier application of the Second Amendment that struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns.
Notably, though, the AG office has cited the same ruling—the District of Columbia v. Heller Case—to emphasize that rights under the Second Amendment are “not unlimited,” and drafted the SAFE Act with this in mind.
The AG has said that SAFE Act is a “first in a series of bills” to be offered by his office in the wake of the federal court ruling.
U.S. Army veteran Paul M. Murphy is challenging the constitutionality of some provisions in the newly enacted law, Special Act for Firearms Enforcement that extensively revised the gun control laws of the CNMI.
Murphy argued that the enforcement of some provisions in the SAFE Act and CNMI Weapons Control Act has and continues to violate his 2nd and 14th Amendment rights.
Murphy raised his challenge in his fourth amended complaint that he filed pro se or without a lawyer in federal court on Friday.
In the new complaint, the plaintiff substituted Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert A. Guerrero as co-defendant of Department of Finance Secretary Larissa Larson. James C. Deleon Guerrero was removed as defendant in this case because he is no longer the DPS commissioner.
Murphy asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to issue a preliminary and permanent injunctions enjoining DPS Commissioner Guerrero from enforcing against him the firearms and ammunition storage restrictions and the prohibition on obtaining, owning, and possessing ammunition feeding devices of more than 10 rounds.
Murphy also asked the court to enjoin the ban on firearms in calibers other than .22 caliber rimfire, .22 caliber center fire, .223 caliber center-fire, and shotguns other than those in .410 gauge defined as “assault weapon[s],” and the firearms and ammunition licensing and registration schemes.
The plaintiff asked the court to enjoin Larson from authorizing and enforcing against him the withholding of his prohibited items currently being held in DPS custody, the ban on the importation of personal firearms currently being held in Guam, and any further provisions in the CNMI SAFE Act.
Murphy asked the court to issue a judgment declaring as unconstitutional the following:
The firearms and ammunition storage restrictions.
Criminalization of and restriction on ammunition feeding devices of more than 10 rounds.
Ban on firearms in calibers other than .22 caliber rimfire, .22 caliber center-fire, .223 caliber center-fire, and shotguns other than those in .410 gauge defined as “assault weapon.”
The firearms and ammunition taxation schemes.
The firearms and ammunition licensing and registrations schemes; as applicable in the CNMI and to law abiding CNMI-U.S. citizens and nationals.
Murphy argued that the SAFE Act’s firearms and ammunition storage requirements do not survive strict scrutiny.
Murphy said the restrictions do not burden only the “manner in which persons may exercise their 2nd Amendment right, but place a blanket restriction on all firearms.
He said the restrictions are so severe as to abolish the core lawful purpose of the right itself: Self-defense.
Murphy said the criminalization of and ban on ammunition feeding devices of more than 10 rounds does not survive scrutiny as it violates a constitutionally protected “arms.”
Murphy said the ban on rifles in calibers other than .22 caliber rimfire, .22 caliber center-fire, .223 caliber center-fire, and shotguns other than .410 gauge defined as “assault weapon[s] do not survive intermediate scrutiny.
He said such ban singles out the 2nd Amendment for “specifically unfavorable treatment, significantly and severely burdens the core of the Second Amendment, and places a blanket restriction on constitutionally protected firearms.”
Murphy said the tax requirements and fees on rifles and pistols singles out the 2nd Amendment for specifically unfavorable treatment and places a de fact ban on a whole class of firearms namely pistols.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona recently ruled that the Commonwealth’s passing of SAFE appears to moot some issues in the lawsuit by Murphy, who sued over the alleged confiscation of his firearms and ammunition in 2002.
Manglona said with the CNMI’s passing of SAFE Act, Murphy can now register a handgun in a caliber above .22, which is one of the issues in his lawsuit.
Manglona said the SAFE Act, which extensively revised the gun control laws of the CNMI, appears to leave others unresolved such as the ban on rifles in calibers greater than .223.
On March 28, 2016, Manglona issued a decision and order in another control case filed by U.S. Navy veteran David J. Radich and his wife, Li-Rong. In that order, the judge struck down the Commonwealth’s ban on handguns for self-defense in the home.
In response, the CNMI passed SAFE Act.
The Office of the Attorney General recently notified the federal court that Murphy is now alleged to register his Glock pistol pursuant to Weapons Control Act.
Murphy alleged that DPS withheld all his firearms and ammunition until the issuance of a firearms, ammunition, and explosive identification card on Sept. 20, 2007.
He said his two firearms were sent to Guam Police Department armory for holding, while the ammunition is being held by the CNMI DPS Firearms Section. He said DPS has denied his repeated requests to carry and possess his rifle and pistol.