Suit vs handgun prohibition dismissed


U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona dismissed yesterday a couple’s lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the CNMI Weapons Control Act, which prohibits residents from obtaining handguns for self-defense purposes. The case was dismissed for lack of standing.

Manglona, however, allowed plaintiffs David J. Radich and Li-Rong Radich to file by March 24, 2015, an amended complaint to include the handgun import ban.

The judge said the Radich couple has the duty to establish their legal standing to vindicate their Second Amendment right to bear handguns in self-defense.

Manglona said that since the current defendant, Department of Public Safety Commissioner James C. Deleon Guerrero, cannot provide the full remedy the Radich couple seeks for their alleged constitutional injury, they must join the official in charge of enforcing the handgun import ban.

“Without that party, this court lacks subject jurisdiction,” said the judge in granting Deleon Guerrero’s motion to dismiss the complaint.

The couple filed a motion for summary judgment.

Deleon Guerrero, through the Office of the Attorney General, asked the court to dismiss the case because the plaintiffs’ injuries cannot be cured by a favorable decision—they lack standing.

Manglona agreed with Deleon Guerrero.

The judge said the court cannot rule on the import ban unless the official in charge of enforcement is named a party in the lawsuit.

Manglona said Deleon Guerrero “enforces the CNMI’s laws, customs, practices, and policies,” but the plain language of the statute provides that the Customs Service—not DPS or its commissioner—has the “primary responsibility and authority to enforce” the import ban.

In order for the Radich couple to obtain a handgun, they must necessarily import it or cause it to be imported into the Commonwealth, Manglona said.

The judge said the unchallenged section of the statute precludes its importation, and the court has no way of reaching that issue without the presence of the official in charge of Customs.

Manglona also denied the Radich couple’s motion for summary judgment as moot.

In their lawsuit, the Radich couple asked the court to stop Deleon Guerrero from enforcing against them the prohibitions on virtually all CNMI residents from obtaining handguns for self-defense purposes.

The couple asked the court to declare that such prohibitions are null and void because they infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms, in violation of the Second and Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Radich, who was born in California, is an honorably discharged U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Gulf War. He used to work at a public school on Tinian before moving to Saipan in 2008 to work for an environmental consulting firm. He and Li-Rong have been married since 2009.

According to the complaint, in 2010, while Radich was away and his wife, Li Rong, was at home alone, their home was invaded.

Li Rong was reportedly attacked and beaten resulting in injuries, including two broken ribs, facial contusions, and a suspected broken orbital bone and eye socket.

Li Rong screamed for help, causing the home invader to leave. She eventually recovered physically, but both plaintiffs incurred medical bills for Li Rong’s care.

The couple applied for a weapons permit. To this day, no permit has been granted.

The couple, through counsel, argued that the Second Amendment “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”

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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