Attorney General Edward Manibusan said that setting up a gun registration process in the CNMI is one of the amendments they made on House Bill 19-18, the act that would provide for the possession and management of firearms in the Commonwealth. Rep. Glenn L. Maratita (R-Rota) introduced the bill.
Manibusan attended Thursday’s House session after learning that HB 19-181 was on the calendar. “We found out this morning that it was on the calendar for action [Thursday]. The House sent this bill to the Senate as SAFE Act II. When the Senate was considering it, the ruling came down from the federal court, so we have to make quick amendments.”
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, last March, declared unconstitutional the CNMI’s gun control law that prohibits residents from obtaining handguns for self-defense purposes.
“We made the amendments to the bill following the court’s ruling while it was at the Senate. The Senate took heed of our concerns, made the amendments, and sent it back as a substitute bill. Now, the House has the chance to either approve it or disapprove it,” said Manibusan.
He said that the CNMI having no registration system was among their concerns. “Our concern right now is we don’t have a registration scheme in the CNMI. The part that we are certain that makes this bill right now is how we can properly register the firearms.”
“There are a couple of different sections that talk about registration, registering your firearms, and how do we go about doing it. That is the one thing that we don’t have, the time and sequence. The longer the wait, it is not a good thing, as the second amendment requires the right to bear arms. If you should have a firearm, you can’t wait for a long time to get it.”
He added that a quick registration process should be put in place. “We need a registration process that is quick and fairly easy. So that we will know what firearms had been registered, where it is going to, and whom it is going to. Safety measures, so that when we are attacked, we can protect the community. We need a law put it in place that is fair, easy, and consistent.”
The House of Representatives voted 17-0 to pass HB 19-181 in last Thursday’s session at the House chamber on Capital Hill. The House approved the measure after amendments made by the Senate and it is now headed to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres for signing.