Ex- Army ranger wants DPS chief cited for criminal contempt


U.S. Army Ranger veteran Paul A. Murphy has asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to hold Public Safety Commissioner Robert Guerrero in criminal contempt for allegedly violating the court’s order in connection with his previous lawsuit over a gun issue where he prevailed.

Murphy pointed out that Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona ruled on Sept. 28, 2016, that the registration of firearms is unconstitutional and that she permanently enjoined Guerrero from enforcing the provisions of the Commonwealth Code that has been declared unconstitutional.

Yet Guerrero, the original named defendant in that case, continued to enforce the registration of at least 100 firearms, Murphy said.He said these registration numbers are officially documented through at least two different Open Government Act requests. Included in these registrations is his firearm, Murphy said.

He said he notified Guerrero about the unconstitutionality of the action by attaching a notice of duress and protest to the application for a firearms identification card. Murphy said he did so in his application for a renewal of his firearms identification card last Nov. 5, 2019.

He said a section of the DPS application for firearm owner’s identification card expressly states, “You may keep and possess only the firearms you register.” Murphy said he specifically underlined this portion of the application in addition to attaching the notice letter.

Murphy said not registering a firearm remains a civil infraction punishable by a fine of $500 under Public Law 19-73.

He said P.L. 19-73 was written one month after Manglona’s ruling, with knowledge of the court’s decision on the registration of firearms. He said the application for firearms owner ID card was also updated after the court’s ruling on this issue, but it still maintained the registration of firearms in order to possess a firearm.

Murphy said the court’s judgment is a clear, unambiguous, and specific, both citing the specific Commonwealth Code and expressing the spirit of the judgment for clarity in administration.

He said the court enjoined Guerrero from enforcing the registration of firearms, and that he notified the commissioner of the unconstitutionality of the registration of firearms after the court’s order.

Murphy said Guerrero was specifically provided a letter attached to his (Murphy) firearms application expressing duress and protest over the registration of firearms.

He said Guerrero signed the application authorizing the registration of the firearm.

In her ruling, Manglona declared unconstitutional the $1,000 excise tax on pistols and several provisions that the CNMI imposed under the then-newly enacted Special Act for Firearm and Enforcement.

Manglona’s ruling favored most of the challenges that Murphy raised in his lawsuit that challenged certain provisions of the Commonwealth’s Weapons Act and SAFE.

In a separate case, Manglona struck down the Commonwealth’s ban on handguns.

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 ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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