Federal Judge Overturns Ban on Openly Carrying Guns in Public

Marianas Island ruling also rejects "assault weapon" ban, caliber restrictions, a heavy handgun tax, and registration requirements.

Federal Judge Overturns Gun Laws

A federal judge in the Northern Mariana Islands overturned a ban on carrying handguns in public, a ban on so-called assault weapons, caliber restrictions for long guns, a $1,000 tax on handguns, and a requirement that all guns be registered with the government. “The individual right to armed self-defense in case of confrontation…cannot be regulated into oblivion,” declared Ramona Manglona, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.

Manglona wrote in her statement that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit (which includes the Northern Mariana Islands) has said “there is no constitutional right to carry a concealed weapon in public.” But the bigger question of whether the right to armed self-defense extends beyond the home has not yet been sufficiently answered. , Manglona concluded that “the Second Amendment, based on its plain language, the history described in Heller I (a landmark case about self-defense) and common sense, must protect a right to armed self-defense in public.” While “the right of armed self-defense, including in public, is subject to traditional limitations,” she says, “it is not subject to elimination.” Since the law enforced by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) “completely destroys that right,” Manglona writes, “it is unconstitutional regardless of the level of scrutiny applied, and the Court must strike it down.”

Manglona also struck down a CNMI ban on assault weapons because of the logic involved behind the banning. She says that the banned attachments for assault rifles actually tend to make the guns easier to control an more accurate–meaning safer, in her mind.She struck the ban down because she says it doesn’t match with the commonwealth’s stated goals of safety.

The CNMI tax on handguns, which raises the cost of the cheapest pistol by almost 700 percent, was also struck down. Her words stated that a $1,000 wasn’t intended to fund the government but instead “comes close to destroying the Second Amendment right to acquire ‘the quintessential self-defense weapon,'” she writes.

The CNMI’s gun registration system, which requires a separate application for each weapon, was deemed by Manglona as unjustified.She upheld the commonwealth’s licensing requirement for gun buyers and the commonwealth’s ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, saying it probably would not have much impact on self-defense and might reduce deaths in mass shootings. The 9th Circuit Court approved a similar ban last year.