$1K Tax on Handguns in U.S. Territory

In the Mariana Islands Commonwealth, which is a U.S. territory, a ban on handguns was smacked down by a U.S. Federal Judge as unconstitutional last month, according to this story from bizpacereview.com. However, the Commonwealth's government countered with a $1,000 excise tax on all handguns sold in the territory.

About the court ruling, 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."

Only 11 days after that decision, the Commonwealth Senate passed a strict 57-page gun control proposal last week. The House then added a $1,000 per pistol excise tax, which the Senate approved unanimously on April 7, sending the bill to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, according to this story from guns.com.

The bill, titled SB 19-94, will establish gun free zones around schools, government buildings and places of worship. It also requires the mandatory use of gun locks for firearms not in use and establishes a prohibition on the carry of firearms outside the home for self-defense. The bill also requires a license to possess firearms or ammunition and forbids Title II firearms like suppressors, short-barreled rifles, and machine guns. It would bring the territory's gun control policy in line with some of the strictest lower 48 states like California and New York.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) consists of fifteen islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. It's one of five inhabited American insular areas and one of two territories with US "commonwealth" status; the other is Puerto Rico.

But that’s not all. No rifle in a caliber larger than .223 would be allowed, and any shotgun chambered for anything bigger than .410 would be banned. Magazines would also be limited to a capacity of 10 rounds or less.

The story says penalties will be stiff if the law is signed, with violators facing as much as 15 years in prison. Possession of a single handgun cartridge without a valid license alone could bring a $2,500 fine.

The $1,000 tax would be expensive anywhere in the U.S., but in the Commonwealth where the per capita GDP is only $13,300 per year, it’s even more prohibitive. Since the collapse of the local garment industry, the territory is also experiencing a 17 percent unemployment rate. ](http://www.guns.com/2016/04/07/lawmakers-approve-1000-tax-on-handguns-in-lieu-of-total-ban/).

"This is definitely a case of the power to tax is a power to destroy a right," said Second Amendment Foundation Executive Director Alan Gottlieb in the Guns.com story. "Most people in the CNMI cannot afford this tax and will not be able to exercise their rights."