Friday, April 08, 2016

CNMI Senate Passes one of the Most Restrictive Gun Laws in the U.S.

The United State District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands recently ruled that existing gun laws, written by a peace corps volunteer in the 1970's, are unconstitutional, and violate the Second Amendment, in several provisions.

The House and Senate of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands reacted to the Court ruling by passing an extremely restrictive bill, S. B. No. 19-94(pdf), entitled "To regulate the possession of firearms in the Commonwealth.", in a special session on 5 April, 2016.  The bill passed the Senate unanimously.  The short title is the SAFE Act (Special Act for Firearms Enforcement), perhaps in reference to the infamous New York law of the same name. It has not yet been signed by the Governor.

I read the bill. It seems that the authors looked at the most restrictive possible language from appellate courts in the circuits most antagonistic to Second Amendment rights.  Then they combined provisions of those laws, to make it as difficult as possible to possess or use for defensive purposes, any firearms in the CNMI.

The authors specifically cite the Cities of Highland Park (a suburb of Chicago), the District of Columbia, and San Francisco as models for the SAFE Act. 

I found some parts of the bill to be astounding.  There are the exemptions from the bill for "Any judge, justice, judge pro tern, justice pro tern, administrative hearing officer, or administrative law judge", all police officers, all correction officers, parole officers, customs officers, and anyone else designated as a law enforcement officer.

The bill gives several officers the ability to grant immunity from the provisions of the bill to whomever they please, by designating them as "law enforcement", "Investigator", or deputy. The Public Auditor, the Attorney General, and the Commissioner of Public Safety all have this power to some degree.

If you wish to be able to carry any weapon anywhere you like in the CNMI, be close friends with one of the above individuals; they will be able to find a way to make you exempt from the law.

If you do not have political connections, the carry of firearms on land in the Islands will be extremely limited under this law.  Some exemptions exist for private property owners, but private property may only be owned by people who are in the direct line of descent of people who were born on the Islands before 1950.  This eliminates the private ownership of real property for over 50% of the population.

Another weird part of the new law is the continued ban on any but .22 rimfire or .223 caliber centerfire rifles, and any but .410 shotguns. There are many other calibers and gauges in "common use" in the United States. I doubt that such a ban would stand up in court, though it is not clear when or if anyone will challenge that provision of the law.  I do not know of any other polity that has such a sweeping ban on common calibers and gauges.

Similarly, the proliferation of bizarre "gun free zones" out to 500 feet from day care centers, or places of worship, and casinos, seems intended to make transport of firearms legally dangerous rather than to increase anyone's safety.

The paranoia of the legislators is noted in their designating as "gun free" areas that extend 500 feet around any building owned by the Legislature, Attorney General, or Court.

The bill would  impose a $1,000 "temporary tax" on the importation of any pistol into the CNMI within one year of the statute being passed.

The bill, as with most bills, seems to be cobbled together from the text of other polities statutes.

How much may be challenged in court remains unknown; but the lack of any provision to carry a firearm (or any weapon!) outside of the home for the purpose of self defense seems to be a significant vulnerability.

 ©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch


Anonymous said...

CNMI is a possession of the united states, how can they get away with ignoring the supreme court rulings and the second amendment that govern an American possession. Heller and other rulings directly apply to united states possessions.

Anonymous said...

The powers that be, ruling their little fiefdom, have brought back the "gun" ban.
1000 dollar tax on a handgun? REALLY..............yup.

Roger V. Tranfaglia