CNMI Lawmakers Debate New Gun Control Bill

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Current prohibition on handguns likely to be struck down

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Dec. 23, 2014) – The 18th Senate will hold its final session today, and included on the agenda is Senate Bill 18-69 or the Weapons Omnibus Act of 2014 introduced by Sen. Pete P. Reyes.

The bill will amend the current local gun law whose prohibition against handguns is being challenged in federal court.

Many residents believe that "things will get out of hand" if handguns are legalized.

Senator Reyes in an interview on Friday said his bill will regulate the ownership of handguns if, as expected, the federal court rules that the current local gun law violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"This bill will impose restrictions on handguns," Reyes added. "We cannot stop it [the court ruling]. We can’t amend the U.S. Constitution but it is generally applicable to the Northern Marianas because we are part of the U.S., but we don’t want anyone to get a handgun or high caliber rifles without a government policy that regulates their acquisition."

"My bill will address some of the concerns regarding handguns. And it’s something that the commissioner of [the Department of Public Safety] supports. This bill will also give members of the community an opportunity to discuss and debate this issue so we can have a good gun control law in place."

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