Sunday, October 02, 2016

Federal Court Strikes Down $1000 Pistol Tax, Registration, Carry Ban, Assault Weapon Ban, Caliber limits

Paul Murphy, a U.S. Army veteran, and resident of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) was denied his right to keep and bear arms in the CNMI since he arrived in 2007.  He followed every administrative remedy that he could.  He was denied at every turn.  He attempted to hire an attorney.  No attorney would take his case.  He filed suit in the federal district court, pro se (as his own counsel).  He (mostly) prevailed. The Northern Mariana Islands District Court, in Murphy v. CNMI Government ruled for Paul Murphy, in summary judgment. From

Plaintiff Paul Murphy, a veteran who served honorably on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as a U.S. Army Ranger, seeks to validate his constitutional right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. He sues Defendants Robert A. Guerrero and Larissa Larson in their official capacities as the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) and the Secretary of the Department of Finance, respectively, to enjoin them from enforcing certain provisions of the Commonwealth’s Weapons Control Act and Special Act for Firearms Enforcement (“SAFE”).
In particular, Murphy challenges: (1) the requirement that he obtain a license and register his  weapons; (2) the restrictions on how he may store his weapons at home; (3) the ban on large capacity magazines (“LCMs”); (4) the ban on rifles in calibers above .223; (5) the ban on “assault weapons”; (6) the ban on transporting operable firearms; and (7) the $1,000 excise tax imposed on handguns. Murphy and the Commonwealth filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

The Court will grant Murphy’s motion with respect to the firearm registration requirement, the ban on rifles in calibers larger than .223, the ban on assault weapons, the ban on transporting operable firearms, and the $1,000 excise tax. The Court will grant the Commonwealth’s motion with respect to the license requirement, the restrictions on storing firearms in the home, and the ban on LCMs. 

A little explanation is necessary.  The infringements on the Second Amendment that were upheld are these:

1.  A requirement that firearms be unloaded and locked up in the home, unless carried on the person.

2. A requirement that a person obtain a license to own firearms, as long as the requirements to obtain the license are de minimus, similar to the requirements to obtain a license to own a car.

3. A ban on the ownership of Large Capacity Magazines (LCMs), defined as having a capacity of more than 10 rounds. 

It is unknown whether the CNMI government will appeal this decision.

It is noteworthy that the Court struck down as obviously unconstitutional the requirement for firearms registration, limits on the caliber of firearms, the ban on carrying loaded firearms, the ban on "assault weapons",  and the $1,000 import tax on handguns.

While I believe the Court erred in upholding the ban on large capacity magazines (it found they were unnecessary for self defense, and that there was no Second Amendment right for militia purposes).  I also believe the Court erred in upholding the requirement that firearms not on the person be locked up in the home. There the Court followed Ninth Circuit precedence in the Jackson case. The Court also followed precedent from the Circuits on licensing requirements.

Overall, the Court showed considerable intellect and honesty in dealing with the issues that it had before it.  I applaud Chief Judge Ramona Manglona for her courage in applying principle over convenience.  The CNMI is a small community. The legal community there is tiny.  The entire CNMI government has been extremely hostile to the application of the Second Amendment to their jurisdiction.

Not surprisingly, members of the government are essentially exempted from the infringements on the Second Amendment in their law.

Chief Judge Manglona showed courage in the face of intense pressure from the ruling class and local elites, perhaps even a majority of the local population. I salute her.

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


Anonymous said...

A great out come considering the issues, but it still falls far short of enforcing the second amendment as written. You note the public officials are exempt. the point of the second amendment is to prevent the public officials from being exempt from enforcing their elite will over the public, anyone remember they work for us? How do you fire employees that have guns when you don't? You may say vote them out well what if they will not let you vote? I think no one should have to say no more than once. No still means no. If I say no to politicians or anyone else I mean no. all this case proves is the amount of corruption in our courts and the rest of government. Politicians are required to follow the same laws the rest of the public has to follow. the people by fact are superior to those in government. we own the government, it does not own us. the constitution belongs to the people not to government. everything the government has it bought with our money by taxes. An import tax on weapons is an infringement by definition everybody is equal right? what if I can not afford that tax and only the rich can? It creates a natural bar to my right to own. If a law was passed requiring a rich person to buy a gun for everyone that can not afford that tax every time the rich person picked up their gun, how long would that law last?

Anonymous said...

Limiting magazine capacity is stupid, just down right ignorant. it takes two seconds to change magazines. I have 21 magazines. 11 of them are 30 round capacity. 8 are 15 round and 2 are five round. that is 460 rounds. I'm sure I can find two seconds to change magazines should it be necessary. ten round capacity magazines would require 46 individual magazines. takes a minute and a half to change them all out. I can belch for that long and still be firing. everything fits in a GI ammo can that I can run with. I have over a hundred rounds that can be used to reload the empty magazines with. And I can make all of the ammo I want. stupid just stupid. there is nothing illegal about making your own bullets. over 8,000 primers in stock, about 20 pounds of powder and a couple of hundred pounds of casting lead and gas checks. I have a very nice and relatively complete reloading setup. that is for just one gun. I have about 20 different caliber reloading die sets and bullet molds. case cleaner , case trimmer, two 10 pound melting pots then we get into shot gun stuff. full set of charge bars and powder bushings three presses and five die sets and the molds to cast double OO buck and a thousand wads. two rifle pistol presses and a full set of case holders. full set of case trimmer pilots and collets. three powder scales and a dribbler. and various other pieces and several load reference books. magazine capacity limitation is just ignorant. I love my single action revolvers but in a fire fight I'm ready for a magazine fight. I also teach reloading. for free. You buy the materials I have the equipment.

Ken said...

While the court did well in this also needs to review the Heller decision as regards storing guns in the home. They clearly erred in this regard, IMO.