Bradley: Some felons being caught with registered guns


Outgoing CNMI Chief Prosecutor John Bradley said yesterday he has seen cases where the Department of Public Safety issued certificates of firearm registration to convicted felons.

“There’s no screening that’s actually happening,” he said in his testimony before the House Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee about the Office of the Attorney General’s position that supports House Bill 22-35 to prohibit convicted felons from possessing firearms and/or ammunition.

In his written comments on the bill, Attorney General Edward Manibusan said that, given the recent escalation of crimes in CNMI involving firearms possessed by felons, this addition to the Criminal Code provides additional protection to the public.

John Bradley

In his testimony before the JGO, Bradley cited a case in which he thought he would be prosecuting a defendant for possession of firearm by a felon, but that he found out that DPS had issued to that person the firearm registration despite the fact that he lied in his application.

“But in the criminal background check, they included a copy of his felony conviction. So there’s nothing going on there. There’s no screening that’s actually happening,” he added.

Bradley asked how could he prosecute the person when DPS told the person he could have a gun, when under the law he wasn’t supposed to. “That created problems for even the feds prosecuting him because you got one government agency telling him he can have this gun. Another agency is saying it’s a crime,” he said.

Bradley cited another case of a habitual offender who was thrice caught with guns. “He was on probation. Probation [officers] went to his house, searched and found a gun in his house. He doesn’t care!” Bradley said.

He clarified that he is not interested in trying to make it more difficult for people to have guns. “The point here is, if you are a convicted felon, you are disqualified. I think that’s a universally agreed rule. There’s not a lot of debate on that,” Bradley said.

Aa prosecutor, Bradley said, gun crimes are always the most dangerous kinds of crimes. But, while there are certainly crimes of gun violence here, it’s not anywhere near the level of gun violence that is happening in the U.S. mainland, he added.

“I have a daughter that lives in New Orleans. Every week, eight to 10 people are shot there. And what you don’t want to have is a policy that encourages that kind of crime to grow here,” he said.

H.B. 22-35, which is authored by JGO Committee chair Rep. Celina R. Babauta (D-Saipan), notes that there is a gap in the CNMI weapon laws: the Special Act for Firearms Enforcement failed to criminalize the possession of firearms and ammunition by convicted felons. Babauta’s legislation seeks to fill that gap by adding such a provision to the Criminal Code.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at
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