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DPS not enforcing gun law provisions found unconstitutional, says government lawyer

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THE Department of Public Safety is not enforcing provisions of a gun control law that have been found to be unconstitutional, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Robert Glass Jr. told the federal court.

In response to the allegation of Paul Murphy that DPS continues to enforce a CNMI firearm registration scheme that was found unconstitutional, Glass said “CNMI Public Law 19-73 repealed the sections which this court found unconstitutional, and replaced them by creating a different licensing and registry scheme.”

Therefore, Glass added, “DPS Commissioner Robert Guerrero is not enforcing provisions that have been found to be unconstitutional.”

In 2016, Murphy, a veteran who served as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan, successfully sued DPS to stop it from enforcing the Commonwealth Weapons Act and the Special Act for Firearms and Enforcement or SAFE.

In his recent filing, Murphy, who is representing himself, is asking the court “to vindicate its authority and punish DPS Commissioner Robert Guerrero for disobedience.”

Murphy asked Judge Manglona to find DPS in contempt of court.

But according to Glass: “Criminal contempt is not the appropriate motion as such charges must be brought by the proper authority. The proper authority vested with bringing criminal charges for contempt is either the court or the United States attorney.”

On Dec. 1, 2016, the Commonwealth Legislature passed and the governor signed into law the Second Special Act for Firearms Enforcement or SAFE Act II or Public Law 19-73, Glass said.

Glass said: “This [new] Act repealed the entirety of SAFE Act I as it had been codified in 6 CMC §§ 2201-2230. SAFE Act II re- codified the requirements for an individual to get a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. 6 CMC §§ 10601—10622. The Act also separated out the requirements for firearm registration, making them completely separate from the requirements to attain a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. 6 CMC §§ 10701-10703.”

He reiterated that the CNMI Legislature repealed and replaced the firearm registry scheme in order to comply with the court’s order.

Glass asked the court to rule in DPS’ favor and deny the motion for contempt.

In his 35-page motion, Murphy stated: “Not registering a firearm still remains a civil infraction punishable by a fine of five hundred dollars under P.L. 19-73 subsection 701(c)(1) on page 24 lines 5 and 6. Public Law 19-73 was written one month after the federal court ruling with full knowledge of this court’s decision on the registration of firearms. The application for firearms owner ID card was also updated after this court’s ruling on this issue, but it still maintained the registration of firearms in order to possess a firearm.”

Murphy said with his firearms ID application form, he notified DPS that the firearms licensing scheme, which included and still includes the registration of firearms, was unconstitutional and that he was only applying for the license because he would be unable to obtain his firearms and ammunition any other way.

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