Federal Judge Strikes Down ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban and Firearm Registration, Upholds Open Carry

AP Photo/Seth Perlman
AP/Seth Perlman

With one fell swoop federal judge Ramona Manglona, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, has struck down the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ (CNMI) ban on “assault weapons” and firearm registration requirements while upholding the constitutionality of openly carrying firearms.

The case in which Manglona issued her decision was brought by Paul Murphy, “a veteran who served honorably on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as a U.S. Army Ranger, [and who filed suit] to validate his constitutional right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.”

Murphy specifically challenged, “(1) the requirement that he obtain a license and register his weapons; (2) the restrictions on how he may store his weapons at home; (3) the ban on large capacity magazines (“LCMs”); (4) the ban on rifles in calibers above .223; (5) the ban on “assault weapons”; (6) the ban on transporting operable firearms; and (7) the $1,000 excise tax imposed on handguns.”

Manglona ruled against the registration requirement, the ban on rifles of greater than .223 caliber, the “assault weapons” ban, and restrictions on “transporting operable firearms.” Her decision against the restrictions on transporting operable firearms upholds the right to carry openly.

Court documents stress that the CNMI is bound by “the Constitution, treaties, and laws of the United States.” This means constitutional provisions “covering civil rights and liberties” in the United States apply equally in CNMI; this includes the Second Amendment.

Manglona ruled against firearm registration. She ruled that the CNMI’s ban on rifles with calibers greater than .223 “burdens the core Second Amendment right to armed self-defense” and “must fall.” She also struck down the “assault weapons” ban as regards the following rifle accessories: “(1) pistol grips that protrude beneath the action; (2) thumbhole stocks; (3) folding or telescoping stocks; (4) flare launchers; (5) flash suppressors; and (6) forward pistol grips.” She explained the decision against the “assault weapons” ban by stressing the possibility that having forward grips and other accessories might actually make it easier to shoot a firearm accurately, thereby limiting the danger of stray or misplaced rounds.

Manglona ruled against CNMI SAFE gun laws that limit open carry, declaring that “the Second Amendment secures a right to bear arms for self-defense in public.” She observed that “because SAFE completely destroys that right, it is unconstitutional regardless of the level of scrutiny applied, and the Court must strike it down. She concurred with precedent that finds certain “limitations” on carry to be constitutional, but observed that being subject to limitations does not translate into being “subject to elimination.”

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.


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