In the absence of meaningful gun reform at the federal level, states can and should act prudently to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

House Bill 625 is exactly such a step. The legislation would ban anyone convicted of misdemeanor stalking or sexual assault from possessing, owning or controlling any firearms or ammunition.

Introduced by state Rep. Chris Lee, the measure is now before the House Committee on Judiciary, which is scheduled to vote on it this afternoon. We urge committee Chair Karl Rhoads and his fellow Judiciary members to pass this matter on to the full House in time for it to cross over to the Senate next Wednesday.

HB625 would ban possession of firearms and and ammunition by individuals convicted of misdemeanor stalking or domestic violence.

HB625 would ban possession of firearms and and ammunition by individuals convicted of misdemeanor stalking or sexual assault.

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The bill is a carryover from the 2015 legislative session, and has amassed broad support since last year. Those supporting the measure include the state attorney general, the Honolulu prosecuting attorney, the Honolulu Police Department, the Domestic Violence Action Center of Honolulu, Americans for Responsible Solutions, the Sex Abuse Treatment Center of Honolulu, the Center for American Progress, and the Honolulu chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in America.

Opposing the bill? The National Rifle Association.

For some, that might be reason enough to give the bill an enthusiastic thumbs up. But there are other substantial reasons why we need HB625.

As the bill’s framers note, 85 percent of survivors of murder attempts and 76 percent of murdered women had been stalked within a year of the attack by a current or previous intimate partner. In homes where there is a history of domestic violence and gun ownership, the risk of intimate partner homicide is 20 times higher than that of homes without guns, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

This would strengthen state law that currently bans firearm possession by those convicted of felonies or violent crimes.

“In nearly all the stalking cases the Honolulu Police Department investigates,” reads the department’s testimony in part, “there is an intimate relationship element.”

And yet, such statistics have been disappointingly insufficient to compel federal lawmakers to act. Similar bills have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate over the past two years — including one co-sponsored by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono — but none has yet passed.

Eleven states have already banned firearm sales to those convicted of misdemeanor stalking, the bill notes. HB625 would do the same while extending Hawaii’s ban to those convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault, as well.

This would strengthen state law that currently bans firearm possession by those convicted of felonies or violent crimes, as well as those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse, individuals diagnosed with mental or emotional disorders or those under a restraining or protective order.

Lee, who brought the bill forward in conjunction with Reps. Della Au Belatti, Cindy Evans and Matt LoPresti, told Civil Beat last week that he’s had friends who have been forced to get restraining orders to protect themselves against stalkers.

“It just makes sense to make sure that if someone is convicted of stalking someone else, they ought not to have access” to guns and ammunition, he said.

Hawaii already has the nation’s lowest gun death rate, and HB625 would only make our 1.4 million residents safer. That’s a proposition that legislators and Gov. David Ige ought to appreciate.

The bill would take effect upon its approval, and we urge them to waste no time in completing their work.

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