Over the last decade, every single attempt for law-abiding and upstanding citizens to obtain a concealed carry firearms permit on Hawaii’s Big Island has been denied.
Hawaii Police Department Chief Harry Kubojiri, who has helmed the department since 2008, has so far denied every application received by his department. His department is being sued over this clear abridgment of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Hawaii has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, saying that citizens are only allowed to obtain a permit “in an exceptional case, when an applicant shows reason to fear injury to the applicant’s person or property, the chief of police of the appropriate county may grant a license to an applicant.” Open carry is generally not legal, especially without a concealed carry permit.
So how do domestic violence survivors whose lives are threatened by their abusers protect themselves in Hawaii?
First, citizens must apply for a permit from the chief of police of their county before attempting to purchase a firearm. Although a single permit is needed to acquire rifles or shotguns within a year of the permit being issued, separate permit are required for each handgun. Hawaiians are then required to complete a class before acquiring a firearm, and after obtaining the permit and taking the class, they are required to submit their fingerprints and pay a fee for a background check.
There is then a minimum two week long waiting period.
Once Hawaiians jump through all these hoops and acquire their firearm, they are required to register the gun with the state police within five days after acquisition.
Inherited firearms are not exempt from these restrictions. Before taking possession of a loved one’s firearms, grieving inheritors are required to go through the same process.
As a result of this abridgment of rights, Hawaiians who do not want to go through this arduous process often buy airsoft guns, which despite looking realistic, shoot harmless plastic pellets. The Hawaiian police often mistake these harmless replicas for real firearms, resulting in a number of police shootings.
In a recent Ninth Circuit case, Peruta v. San Diego, the court ruled, “There is no Second Amendment right for members of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.” The Hawaii Attorney General’s office, led by Douglas S. Chin, submitted a brief in favor of abandoning the Second Amendment, writing, “…if carrying firearms in public, openly or concealed, presents a serious public safety risk, public carry should be deemed outside the scope of the Second Amendment.”
Hawaii’s Attorney General is not an elected official, but rather appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate.
In the meantime, as the Peruta case makes its way to the US Supreme Court and the state continues to make a mockery of the fundamental right to keep and bear arms, Hawaiian domestic abuse victims in fear for their lives have to rely on the government to protect them. The police department page helpfully suggests that victims in need of immediate assistance call 911.
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