The House of Representatives has returned to the committee a bill that would possibly increase the number of shooting galleries in the CNMI, soon after the bill’s author asked the House to refer the legislation back to the committee.
At the Sept. 6 House session, Rep. Ralph N. Yumul (R-Saipan) asked that his bill, House Bill 21-54, be moved back to the House Committee on Commerce and Tourism, on the heels of recent gun violence incidents in the U.S. mainland.
“I respectfully request [to have the bill be] sent back to the committee due to all the violence that has been going around in the country, and I have been getting many calls from the community to hold off on the bill because it is becoming unsafe,” Yumul said. “As author of the bill, I personally ask that we send [the bill] back to the committee.”
Yumul’s request was granted after the House voted unanimously to send it back to the committee through a voice vote and with no discussion.
The legislation ultimately seeks to discourage discharging firearms in unregulated properties within the CNMI by increasing the number of shooting galleries and shooting ranges to act as a place to safely discharge them for practice.
H.B. 21-54 would hold local delegations responsible with determining the number of shooting ranges and galleries allowed per island through local laws, along with stricter regulations such as the installation of “high definition closed-circuit television cameras” covering public premises as well as requiring shooting galleries and ranges to submit plans to the Department of Public Safety, the licensing body.
Additional restrictions and regulations include limiting shooting ranges or shooting galleries to no more than 20 booths; having range safety officer or basic firearms instructor certified by the National Rifle Association to supervise the day-to-day operations and carry a company-owned, un-chambered sidearm in a holster while working; allowing only the use of firearms and ammunition registered for each shooting gallery and range; and allowing all licensed shooting galleries and ranges to make available for rent all legal firearms and ammunition in the CNMI regardless on the type, caliber, and quantity in their inventory, among several other additional restrictions and regulations.
Currently, there is one shooting gallery, one shooting range, and one pistol range on Saipan; one shooting range on Tinian; and no shooting galleries or shooting ranges on Rota.
The Marianas Visitors Authority and Saipan Chamber of Commerce have supported the bill; former governor Benigno R. Fitial also expressed support for the bill with some minor amendments.