UPDATED 9/6/12 11 a.m.
Rep. John Mizuno used a hearing on violence Wednesday to make nice with gun rights groups.
Mizuno is miffed that he was tagged as a gun-control advocate in a recent article in the Hawaii Reporter. He’s spent the past two weeks arguing with the news outlet over the story and trying to convince local gun advocates that he was falsely reported to be in cahoots with U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye in an effort to enact stricter gun laws.
Mizuno presided over Wednesday’s hearing, which was billed as an informational session on how to improve policies relating to violence in Hawaii. Nearly two dozen people showed up, many of them from peace activist groups.
“This is not going to focus on Second Amendment rights,” Mizuno said after calling the meeting to order.
But much of what was said in the next two hours had a lot to do with gun ownership rights — specifically, the importance of keeping them.
Mizuno reiterated his support for Second Amendment rights throughout the hearing and took every opportunity to remind people that he had not teamed up with Inouye to work against gun owners.
Mizuno even asked one of those testifying, Roger Kumar from the Gandhi International Institute for Peace, to confirm that he had not mentioned Inouye during a meeting two weeks ago that the article was centered on.
“Did you ever hear me talk about U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye [at the meeting two weeks ago]?” Mizuno asked. “You were at the meeting from beginning to end.”
“That was totally false information,” Kumar replied.
Mizuno then reiterated his desire to partner with the Hawaii Rifle Association, which had two representatives at the hearing.
“We are looking forward to working with the Hawaii Rifle Association,” Mizuno said. “Harvey [Gerwig, president of the Hawaii Rifle Association] brought up the conceal issue [proposal to allow people to carry concealed weapons]. Perhaps that can be used for victims of domestic violence.”
After the hearing, Mizuno said his next steps include working with the HRA to continue to find solutions for problems of violence.
But Mizuno said he did not favor anyone at the hearing.
“I made a point to say anyone can speak,” he said. “People can say this is legislative grandstanding, but when was the last time that you saw HRA sitting at the same table [as advocates of nonviolence]?”
The Hawaii Reporter article, titled “Activists Find Way to Undermine Firearms Ownership in Hawaii,” was written by James Macey, a guest contributor. It referred to a meeting held by Mizuno and members of the non-violence advocacy community.
The purpose of the meeting was designed to get a core group together to start a ‘grassroots campaign’ to convince state lawmakers and the public to enact new gun laws and restrictions and/or ban. The meeting was a short notice meeting called because U.S. Senator Dan Inouye talked with State Rep.Mizuno on Monday and told him to start the campaign. Apparently Senator Inouye wants quick action to take advantage of current gun discussions in the press…
UPDATE: Hawaii Reporter editor Malia Zimmerman said Thursday the piece was a letter to the editor, not an article.
Mizuno insisted Macey had his facts wrong.
“I am just shocked that we can have this kind of fabricated statement in the Hawaii Reporter,” Mizuno said at the hearing.
He said the HRA contacted him after the article was published to ask whether it was true. (Hawaii Reporter editor and president Malia Zimmerman is a director of the Hawaii Rifle Association.)
“They were upset about the story and they reached out to me,” Mizuno said. “I explained to Dr. Cooper [legislative co-chair of the HRA] that the story was false.”
Mizuno said that the HRA told him it would clarify the matter in its next newsletter.
The HRA gave Mizuno an “A” in its 2012 election year ratings published on Aug. 6.
Mizuno was so upset that he not only asked the Hawaii Reporter to publish a press release correcting the article, but he also called the Attorney General’s office to find out if he could press charges.
Some of those at the hearing were confused about the emphasis placed on the rifle association.
“I thought the moderator [Rep. Mizuno] was too much reaching out to the HRA,” said Robert Stiver, a retired civil servant. “Why single them out again and again?”
Mizuno, a Democrat who represents District 28, is facing Republican Carole Kauhiwai Kaapu in the Nov. 6 election.
So is the lawmaker is afraid of losing his pro-gun voting base?
“Whether it is election season or not, no elected official should be pounded on,” Mizuno said. “And no worthy media organization should print a story that’s fabricated and false.”