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Last updateWed, 19 Dec 2018 12am

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    Monday, December 17, 2018-6:21:45A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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New gun-control law imposes $1,000 excise tax on pistols

GOVERNOR Ralph Torres signed into law a gun-control measure on Monday that imposes a $1,000 excise tax on handguns — a provision that could be challenged in court.

In his remarks, the governor said: “This is something that none of us wanted to have,” referring to Senate Bill 19-94 which is now Public Law 19-42.

Gov. Ralph Torres signs the new gun-control law while Attorney General Edward Manibusan looks on. Also in photo is LJ Castro, public information specialist with the governor’s office.  Photo by Cherrie Anne E. VillahermosaGov. Ralph Torres signs the new gun-control law while Attorney General Edward Manibusan looks on. Also in photo is LJ Castro, public information specialist with the governor’s office. Photo by Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

“I don’t think anyone here in this office wants to see handguns on the street. Unfortunately however, the only option we have is to make regulations as strict as possible. As we move forward things are going to be different. Our law enforcement agencies’ first priority is to obtain bulletproof vests for our officers to ensure the safety of everyone when they need to enforce the law.”

Torres said law enforcement agencies should work with the Attorney General’s Office “so that what we do out there is with the AG’s approval and consent.”

AG Edward Manibusan said the signing of the measure whose original version was drafted by his office is something to be happy about “even if it is not really a happy moment because having handguns in the commonwealth is not something to be happy about.”

He added, “In the first place we don’t want it, this is not something that we want in the commonwealth — the proliferation of handguns — nonetheless, we worked hard with the governor and members of the Legislature to ensure that we have legislation in place and that’s why we are here today. This bill provides strong language to ensure the safety of gun owners and that of citizens from the people who own guns legally.”

The AG said the new law still has a long way to go. Additional legislation to regulate gun possession is expected to be proposed as the CNMI moves forward following the federal court ruling that struck down the local handgun ban.

Rep. Angel Demapan thanked the governor for signing the bill into law and the AG for drafting the measure and for working closely with the Legislature to ensure its enactment.

“Although it took a while to get through to a final version, we got there. We had the AG in the session hall while we deliberated this and we saw the significance of it. It’s important that we have protection in place for law enforcers because their duties and jurisdiction have drastically changed after [the federal court] ruling,” Demapan said, adding that the Legislature will continue to ensure the safety of everyone by proposing more gun-control legislation.

“We also established gun-free zones for our children. This is something we didn’t want, but we do have a District Court ruling to follow so the best thing to do is regulate it,” he added, referring to handguns.

Rep. Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero said he hopes the AG’s office will educate law enforcement agencies with respect to implementing the new law and regulations regarding handgun possession in the commonwealth.

According to Manibusan, “Since this is a new law for all of us, it will take us some time to understand how to work with it and deal with it. So I will ask all law enforcement agencies to come together in my office for an orientation. We will explain this law so that there is no misunderstanding as to how this will be applied to the commonwealth.”