Administration defends new gun law

Guns right activist say legal challenge on the way
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Posted on Apr 18 2016

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The administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres defended the CNMI’s new gun control laws on Friday as a law that could be “a role model” for other U.S. states and jurisdictions facing seemingly uncontrolled and continued gun violence.

The administration was responding to queries regarding its position on recent reports that the a legal challenge to the new law, Public law 19-42, was likely, particularly over a provision that asseses a $1,000 excise tax on pistols.

Guns.com, for one, published an article last Tuesday on the new law, quoting gun right activists disdain who called the new CNMI law as a “naked attempt to circumvent” the federal court ruling that struck down the hand gun ban

“Government cannot tax a constitutional right out of existence,” UCLA professor of Law Adam Winkler said in Guns.com article. “I expect this tax to be struck down quickly.”

The article also stated that gun rights advocates who backed the lawsuit that struck down the Commonwealth’s ban on handguns “are gearing up for action.”

“We expected the Governor to sign it,” Second Amendment Foundation Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb said in the article.

“Our SAF legal team is working on the next step. It seems that the anti-gun rights politicians never learn,” Gottieb added.

In a statement, the Torres administration said the new law, the Special Act for Firearms Enforcement, or SAFE Act, is intended to regulated the possession of firearms in the Commonwealth, including “several provisions to ensure the prevention of and the proliferation and misuse of firearms in the CNMI. “

“The Commonwealth has enjoyed a peaceful society through the unique treaty under the Covenant with the United States for 40 some years,” the administration said. “It is the law’s intent that the possession and use of handguns will be for self-defense and not for the indiscriminate use to harm human life or to intimidate.

“We have seen many cases of illegal gun possession and use,” the administration added, “which have needlessly harmed human life. In such instances, government officials and families of victims often call for stricter gun rules to prevent further loss of life.

“The CNMI is taking pre-emptive steps to safeguard our community. It is envisioned that perhaps, CNMI’s PL 19-42 can be a role model for other areas seeking stricter gun rules and safer communities,” it added.

On March 28, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona ruled that the CNMI’s ban on handguns as unconstitutional.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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