On April 11, one of the most severe gun control laws in the United States went into effect that has gotten the attention of conservatives and gun rights enthusiasts. In the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the U.S. in the Pacific Ocean, the new law subjects all pistols sold in the jurisdiction to a tax of $1,000. Gov. Ralph Torres of the Northern Marianas Islands proclaimed that the new law is a “role model” for the states and other jurisdictions on the mainland who are seeking to control gun crimes.
The law came after a federal court ruling in March that the Northern Mariana’s 40-year-old handgun ban was unconstitutional. Shotguns and rifles were not included in the ban. The new law also expanded the sorts of so-called “gun-free zones” to include schools, clinics and daycare centers.
 
Grover Norquist, of Americans for Tax Reform, wrote a blog entry condemning the unprecedented tax on lawful purchases of firearms. “The threat of such a tax serving as a role model for other politicians to impose is not an idle one,” wrote Norquist. In a statement, Norquist added, “The Left is now seeking to tax guns out of existence.”
There are already other jurisdictions in the U.S. that tax firearms, supposedly for public safety and research. For example,  a “gun violence tax” went into effect in Seattle this January, which allows the city to collect a $25 tax on every gun sale. It also collects between 2 to 5 cents on every round of ammunition. Supposedly, the funds raised from the new tax will go to research on the impact of gun violence in the community.
 
Gun rights advocates are seeking to suit the city of Seattle, claiming that it is trying to regulate firearms, which is the prerogative of the State of Washington. Seattle claims that this is not regulation, but merely taxation. So far, a judge has ruled that the tax is within the “lawful exercise of Seattle’s taxing authority.” The National Rifle Association and other groups plan to appeal the decision.
 
According to a report in the Seattle Times, gun rights attorney Steve Fogg said “There is no way in the world that this so-called tax is in fact a tax.” Fogg said, “It is a straight-up piece of regulation that is designed to inhibit the merchant sales and use of firearms in the city of Seattle.” Sales of firearms have waned in Seattle, and some businesses have moved.
 
In Illinois’ Cook County, wherein is violent Chicago, firearms have been taxed at $25 each since 2012. Later this year, a tax is being imposed per round of ammunition. City officials claim that the revenue raised will be used to address the cost of gun violence, officials say. Each victim of gun violence in the city costs approximately $52,000 in resources to treat. Chicago continues to be one of the most violent cities in the country. The Illinois tax has recently been challenged in the courts.
 
The editor of Bearing Arms, Bob Owens, wrote of the Northern Marianas and the new law:
 
"This is nothing more or less than a form of economic discrimination, and is among the most deplorable things I’ve seen in a long time from a civil rights perspective, at least from a nominal Republican.
 
"This sort of abuse of power is of course par for the course from radical progressives, who routinely attempt to gut the Constitutional rights of citizens (here’s just the latest example in California) while manufacturing new “rights” out of thin air."
 
Gov. Torres is a supporter of Donald Trump's candidacy. Trump won all nine Republican delegates in the March primary in the territory. 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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