Radich couple opposes PTSA’s motion to intervene for appeal

Couple’s lawyer says challenged laws no longer exist; PTSA no standing

U.S. Navy veteran David J. Radich and his wife, Li-Rong Radich, are opposing the request of the Tanapag Middle School Parent Teacher Student Association to intervene in their lawsuit that successfully challenged the constitutionality of the CNMI gun control law.

The Radich couple, through counsel David G. Sigale, said the Tanapag Middle School PTSA seeks to appeal the U.S. District Court’s March 28, 2016, ruling that declared unconstitutional the Commonwealth’s near absolute ban on handgun possession for purposes of self defense.

As of now, Sigale said, the challenged laws no longer exist, at least in the form the court considered in this suit, because the Commonwealth passed Public Law 19-42, the Special Act for Firearms Enforcement Act, following the court summary judgment ruling, which repealed and/or amended all the laws that the Radich couple had challenged.

Sigale said because, as the PTSA alleges, the Commonwealth did not appeal the court’s March 28 ruling, the court should deny the PTSA’s motion to intervene because the PTSA has not—and indeed cannot—establish Article 3 standing.

The lawyer said to establish Article 3 standing, one must “prove that he has suffered a concrete and particularized injury that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct, and is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.”

Sigale said while the PTSA apparently hopes to establish Article 3 standing by inaccurately comparing the possession of firearm by qualified law abiding persons to illegal drugs, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, PTSA’s statements make clear that PTSA seeks only to “vindicate…value preferences through the judicial process.”

Tanapag Middle School PTSA president A. Kodep Ogumoro-Uludong said they oppose the legalization of handguns in the CNMI because these weapons add a new and dangerous threat to the students’ welfare.

“A handgun in the home or school creates new opportunities for murder, assault and suicide, as well as attempts and threats to commit them, not to mention accidental death and injury from gunshot,” said Ogumoro-Uludong in his declaration filed in court.

The declaration was attached to Tanapag Middle School PTSA’s memorandum in support of its motion to intervene for purposes of appeal in the Radich couple’s lawsuit.

Ogumoro-Uludong said a handgun can be easily carried, brandished, and used even by children too young to fully appreciate its danger.

In Tanapag Middle School PTSA’s memorandum, attorney Joseph E. Horey said if the court’s decision in the Radich couple’s case is allowed to remain in force without appeal, the PTSA’s ability to protect its interest in the “welfare of children and youth in home, school, and community” will this be permanently impeded.

In her March 28 ruling, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona declared unconstitutional the CNMI gun control law that prohibits all residents from obtaining handguns for self-defense purposes.

In response, the CNMI passed Public Law 19-42, SAFE Act, which removes the ban on possession of handguns and also establishes new rules for transporting and using firearms.

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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