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    Tuesday, May 21, 2019-8:58:36A.M.






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Former US Army Ranger challenges NMI gun law

A former U.S. Army Ranger sued the CNMI government in federal court, asking to repeal the commonwealth’s Weapons Control Act and all associated legislation, licensing, taxation, recording, administration, processing, and the like.

Paul Michael Murphy, 32, a Kagman resident, is asking for $5 million from the CNMI government for pain and suffering; reimbursement of funds paid or lost; reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of suit incurred as a result of the civil action; and other relief.

Murphy represents himself as he submitted the four-page complaint with attachments in federal court last week.

Murphy said the CNMI Weapons Act and its enforcement is a violation of the 2nd and 14th amendments to the US constitution, of 18 United States Code§926A, or the interstate transportation of firearms law, and the CNMI constitution.

Murphy said upon his arrival at the Saipan International Airport on July 30, 2007, the CNMI Department of Finance and Divisions of Customs Services confiscated his firearms and ammunition that were turned over to the custody of the Department of Public Safety.

DPS withheld all firearms and ammunition until the issuance of a CNMI Firearms, Ammunition, Explosive’s identification card on Sept. 20, 2007, withholding certain firearms and ammunition after the issuance of the ID. Two firearms were sent to the Guam Police Department Armory for holding while the ammunition is still being held by the DPS’ firearms section, Murphy said.

On March 30, 2011, Murphy said he requested that he be allowed to carry and possess his WASR 10/63 rifle but the request was denied on April 14, 2011.

On May 5, 2011, Murphy said he submitted an application to carry and possess his Glock 19 pistol, but this was denied on same day.

Murphy resubmitted an application to carry and possess his WASR 10/62 rifle on June 13, 2011. DPS Commissioner James Deleon Guerrero approved without date of approval his application to carry and possess the WASR 10/62, Murphy said. The same was disapproved on April 12, 2012 via email.

On Jan. 29, 2013, Murphy formally notified DPS regarding his protest, being under duress, and fearing the enforcement of CNMI Weapons Act, the complaint stated.

In the letter, Murphy said: “I fear that if I do not comply with [the CNMI Weapons Act], my personal property – the rifles listed – will be confiscated against my will and against my rights. I am a veteran of foreign wars and have served my country honorably as a US Army Ranger. I swore an oath to defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic and yet when I returned to the CNMI, I have been treated like a criminal if not a terrorist for owning rifles. This application specifically states that “family protection” is not to be used even though as a soldier and currently a teacher protecting my family and students is a strong reason to have a rifle. [The Applications for a Weapons Identification Card] is strongly discriminatory against my belief and conviction to protect my loved ones from criminals.” Murphy further complained that his rights, upon his arrival in 2007, have been violated for five years.

Murphy said he has been “physically and emotionally burdened and distressed by the standing enforcement of the CNMI Weapons Control Act.”

On July 18, 2014, Murphy sent a letter to DPS, the Attorney General’s Office, followed by a Nov. 6, 2014 letter. Murphy demanded the return of his American Tactical .22 caliber rifles, and two Palmetto arms-stripped lower receivers being held in the DPS Armory.

In a separate lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the CNMI gun law in federal court, a U.S. Navy Gulf War veteran and his wife have until Dec. 31, 2014 to submit their motion for summary judgment.

The defendant, DPS Commissioner James C. Deleon Guerrero, who was sued in his official capacity, has to file opposition by Jan. 30, 2015. Assistant Attorney General James Zarones represents Deleon Guerrero.

David Radich and Li-Rong Radich have to file their response by Feb. 13, 2015. Their attorneys are Daniel Guidotti of Saipan and David Sigale, of the Law Firm of David G. Sigale, P.C., based in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona will preside over a hearing on the motion for summary judgment on March 5, 2015.

Anticipating an unfavorable ruling from the federal court, Deleon Guerrero and Zarones have asked the Legislature to act “swiftly and without hesitation” to pass an alternative gun control law that is currently pending in the Senate.

When contacted, Deleon Guerrero told Variety last night: “This is why the Legislature needs to act swiftly on the proposed gun control legislation. Senator Pete P. Reyes is correct in his assertion that the bill he introduced is intended to regulate firearms as opposed to advocating the indiscriminate expansion of gun ownership in the commonwealth. I do not want more guns, Senator Reyes does not want more guns, and no legislator or Administration official I have spoken to including the Governor wants more guns.”

“However, all of us are in a position now where we either pass legislation that can withstand Second Amendment challenges while regulating gun ownership at the same time, or face the consequences of having no regulations at all which could mean a potential flood of weapons in the Northern Marianas,” Deleon Guerrero concluded.