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US territory passes $1000 gun tax after courts smack down gun ban as unconstitutional

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After having a ban of handguns smacked down by the courts, the Mariana Islands Commonwealth came back with a vengeance with an onerous $1,000 excise tax on all handguns sold in the U.S. territory.

A U.S. federal court ruled last month that a restrictive gun licensing law on the island chain was unconstitutional, according to Guns.com.

Chief Judge Ramona Villagomez Manglona of the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands said, “Because the people of the Commonwealth are part of the American people who’ve overwhelmingly chosen handguns as their principal means of self-defense, the Second Amendment protects that right here as well.”

Not to be denied, lawmakers countered with a severe tax, as reported by Guns.com:

In a reply to the court order barring enforcement, the Commonwealth Senate passed a strict 57-page gun control proposal last week to which the House added a $1,000 per pistol excise tax, which the Senate approved unanimously on April 7, sending the bill to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres for expected signature.

 

And legislators made no bones about the measure being intended to restrict resident’s access to guns.

The Marianas Variety reported that “[b]efore acting on the measure, Sen. Paul A. Manglona expressed support for the House amendment that will impose an excise tax of $1,000 per handgun. Manglona said this provision will go a long way toward reducing the number of guns coming into the islands.”

Legal action challenging the latest measure can be anticipated.

The National Rifle Association is currently challenging a $25 gun tax in Seattle, which joins Chicago as the only two local municipalities in the Unites States with an individual tax on gun sales — Seattle also taxes ammunition.

“This is definitely a case of the power to tax is a power to destroy a right,” Second Amendment Foundation executive director Alan Gottlieb told Guns.com of the Mariana gun tax. “Most people in the CNMI cannot afford this tax and will not be able to exercise their rights.”

Minimum wage in the commonwealth is $6.05 an hour.

Gottlieb said the Second Amendment Foundation is already looking at a challenge to the $1,000 tax should it become law.

Tom Tillison

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