Mariana Islands Pass $1,000 Handgun Tax After Outright Ban Declared Unconstitutional

Critics say move destroys gun rights

handgun tax
AP

The legislature in the Mariana Islands moved to impose a $1,000 excise tax on all handguns sold in the U.S. territory on Wednesday.

The legislation comes after a federal court struck down its handgun ban late last month. On March 28, Ramona Manglona, chief judge of the District Court of the Northern Mariana Islands, struck down the island chain's law against handgun ownership and some of the restrictions it imposes on other kinds of firearm ownership. The judge, an Obama appointee, said the ban was in violation of the Second Amendment.

The Mariana senate passed the $1,000 tax on all handguns unanimously.

"Before 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," the Marianas Variety said. "Manglona said this provision will go a long way toward reducing the number of guns coming into the islands."

The bill also included a number of other gun control measures including establishing a number of gun free zones, gun storage requirements, and waiting periods. Some lawmakers did raise concern over possible legal action against the U.S. Territory in light of the new restrictions.

Gun rights activists slammed the tax as an attempt to destroy people's gun rights.

"This is definitely a case of the power to tax is a power to destroy a right," Alan Gottlieb, head of the Second Amendment Foundation which sued over the now defunct handgun ban, told Guns.com. "Most people in the CNMI cannot afford this tax and will not be able to exercise their rights."

The bill now awaits the governor's signature before it can become law.