Handgun legalization viewed as a game-changer in CNMI


A significant impact, especially in ensuring security in the CNMI, is expected to be felt as handguns will soon be legalized in the Commonwealth.

According to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, legalizing handguns is “changing the whole CNMI.”

“This is changing the whole CNMI, our protection, our lives,” Torres said, “It has changed the way we have enjoyed the freedom and the luxury of not having handguns.”

Torres said additional funding would be needed for the Department of Public Safety.

“Now we have to appropriate more funding for DPS, now we need to have vehicles bulletproof, now we need to get all the DPS officers get bulletproof vests as well as the elected officials and judges and so forth, now we need to get more funding for that protection. Our office will need security,” Torres said.

The sentiment is echoed by the Commonwealth Ports Authority in terms of ensuring security in airports and ports.

“For the most part, we all respect the U.S. Constitution and within that, the Right to Bear Arms, however, the CNMI has had the privilege in maintaining a controlled gun environment. This ruling is a game changer for my LEO’s (Law Enforcement Officers) and all the LEO’s in the CNMI for that matter,” CPA executive director MaryAnn Lizama said.

She added that changes in security measures will be needed.

“I rely on my LEO’s to protect our airport and seaport communities and having this ruling take effect, not only do our boys have to stand up and tighten security but changes in our security measures must be done,” Lizama said.

For tourism, Marianas Visitors Authority board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce said that “while we do not believe the ability to own or carry a handgun in the NMI would greatly affect tourism, a significant increase in crime would.”

“As we all know, safety is a top priority for tourists when they choose a destination to travel to,” Aldan said, adding that the board is also yet to have the opportunity to sit and discuss the ruling.

“We can only wait to see the impact of the court’s ruling.  Unfortunately we cannot offend the U.S. Constitution.  I applaud the   administration and the Legislature for quickly reacting to the ruling with legislation to restrict access to handguns and impose penalties, financial, and jail time,” she added.

Aldan-Pierce said she is “sure they will do all they can to continue to ensure the safety of  all CNMI residents and our visitors.”

Guns in other islands

Guam’s legislative secretary, Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes, shares that in Guam, they haven’t had a problem with guns as they have strict guidelines for ownership.

“For Guam, we have not had a problem. We follow strict guidelines,” Muña-Barnes said, “I do know that the right to bear arms exist today and I do know that there is a process and the guidelines that we follow, a lot of them mirror that from the United States.”

“Sen. Tony Ada has been the champion with the right to bear arms and he has had legislations that would continue to safeguard gun usage in Guam but not restricted to the fact that you have to go through hoops and hurdles to get a license,” she added.

Muña-Barnes said that due to the very strict guidelines, they have not seen any major problems so far.

“There are rules and regulations, procedures in place on how to own a gun, and we also have training requirements on the utilization of a gun so in order for you to have a gun now, you have to go through a training process. Maybe that’s something that Saipan legislation needs to look at, that in order for you to possess, or hold a permit, a license and utilize the gun, you must go through certain training program,” Muña-Barnes said.

Like the CNMI, the Federated States of Micronesia has always had a ban on handguns as well.

“Traditionally, we never considered handguns, even now,” FSM Tourism Unit Division of Resources Management and Development program manager Bermance Aldis said.

Torres said they are looking into all possibilities as well as checking the sovereignty of the CNMI.

“We’re looking into all possibilities because it will tremendously affect our lives here. Seeing the trend in the United States, it is inevitable for us to get this result. However, I want to see what our sovereignty is here, that’s the next question,” Torres said.

Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon | Reporter
Frauleine Michelle S. Villanueva was a broadcast news producer in the Philippines before moving to the CNMI to pursue becoming a print journalist. She is interested in weather and environmental reporting but is an all-around writer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Journalism and was a sportswriter in the student publication.

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.