Federal Court Strikes Down Pistol Tax, Registration, Carry Ban, Assault Weapon Ban, Caliber Limits

Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (courtesy bbc.com)

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). The Northern Mariana Islands District Court, in Murphy v. CNMI Government ruled for Paul Murphy, in summary judgment. From justia.com:

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.

While I believe the Court erred in upholding the ban on large capacity magazines; it found they were unnecessary for self defense. 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 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 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

comments

  1. A sort of a win. Hope he takes it all the way, and the SAF takes on the case as well.

    1. avatar Joe W says:

      As a second class citizen in NY I pray this is the case that restores our rights.

  2. avatar O2HeN2 says:

    Thanks for the update. Expect the local government to completely ignore the decision.

    I used to live on Saipan in the early-70s, it was a corrupt, 3rd world island that happened to be under the aegis of the United States at the time. The island governemnt both ignored laws and made them up on a case by case basis. Since then I’ve keept up from time to time with goings-on on the island and nothing leads me to believe that anything has changed, except it really is part of the US now. Few on the mainland US know about the island, or care about it and the local government uses that apathy to the fullest extent possible.

    O2

  3. avatar mk10108 says:

    55 double spaced pages to enforce 27 words written 240 years ago. The infringement continues. The remedy is an amphibian assault rolling up every state employee and driving them into the ocean.

    1. avatar Skyler says:

      Amphibian assault? At first I thought this was a typo, but after reflection, I like that you are calling to assault politicians who are best described as toads.

    2. avatar Skeptical_Realist says:

      Actually, the Marines plan and execute an amphibious assault on CNMI every two years. It’s an exercise called “Valient Shield” that started in 2006. VS-16 was just completed at the end of Sept. It usually involves 1-2 Carrier Groups, and a large USAF/Marine presence at Andersen AB, Guam.

      The only reason the US cares about Guam and the CNMI are due to strategic positioning in the Pacific. The islands are more like third-world countries, and you have to go through customs when you come back to the “real” U.S.

  4. avatar C.S. says:

    Wtf is up with the exemptions for the lawmakers?

    1. avatar Swarf says:

      Grease.

      Same as the carve outs for cops here on the contiguous. If the cops get to keep their guns, they are more than happy to take yours.

      Allow people who make the laws on the island to have the weapons and they will make sure everything else is nice and legal.

      Same as it ever was.

  5. avatar Anner says:

    Holy crap, that’s a big kick in the right direction. I applaud the plaintiff’s efforts in tackling the local gov’t.

  6. avatar Lou says:

    This is why the NRA’s “victory” in the Heller decision has screwed over the 2nd Amendment. It has officially converted the original intent of defense against tyranny into defense against robbers and criminals hence the decision above (and in many lower court decisions of CT, CA, NY, MD, NJ, etc and many more to come) that 10 rounds is enough, a handgun, hunting rifle or shotgun, or target rifle is all that citizens should be able to own and if they stray from that, it’s a lifetime ban on a God given right and years in prison.

    1. avatar Yellow Devil says:

      The Federal, state and local government have violated the spirit and letter of the law regarding the second amendment before the Heller decision was made, and will still continue to violate them long afterwards.

    2. avatar Andy says:

      That wasn’t the NRA. It was the SAF.

    3. avatar Matt says:

      Oh BS. Like they needed supposed permission from Heller to come up wit ha 10 round limit or other infringement. If anything Heller should be the get out of jail free card for us because of the common use clause but it is not really enforced or applied so we end up in this situation. Apply it in line with Miller and we should be really gtg and any restriction should be gutted by it, but there is lack of enforcement.

  7. avatar Q33 says:

    So is the ‘license to own’ a pistol also a ‘license to carry’ now_?

  8. avatar BLAMMO says:

    You don’t want to have the fight on LCMs.

    Even the most libertarian court will never rule that a State (or any other administrative division) has NO AUTHORITY to regulate the magazine capacity of firearms. They will always rule that the government has the authority to regulate magazine capacity. Then, restrictions as low as 5 rounds, like in NYC, will be constitutional for all time. A court will also never put a number on it.

    1. avatar Paul B. says:

      IIRC, the New York judge who overturned parts of the NY SAFE act addressed the mag capacity issue. Before the law, the limit was 10 rounds; SAFE reduced that to 7 (then someone pointed out that no 7 round magazines are made for most guns, with a few exceptions like some single stack autos, so the act was amended to allow 10 rd mags, but they had to be loaded with 7 rounds–Im not kidding). The judge threw out the 7 round limit, saying it was “arbitrary.” But 10 apparently isn’t arbitrary.

  9. avatar miforest says:

    movement in the right direction! Yaaa!

  10. avatar Joe says:

    Can this in any way help us in New Yorkistan? Her ruling on “aws” is literally the exact opposite of every other court.

  11. The Court struck down the law as it applies to the Open Carry of handguns. The Court said that the ban is constitutional for handguns carried concealed.

  12. avatar Matt says:

    Dean, Any idea how this would/will affect split circuits?

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email