Hawaii likes nothing more than to place its best foot forward, and for a state whose economy heavily relies on tourism, something underground is stirring, much like the lava flows of Kilauea and perhaps threatening an important image. Peruta v. San Deigo, a Second Amendment case with wide-ranging implications, revolves around the right to carry a concealed firearm and directly challenges the authority of government restrictions of that right. It sets the stage for a showdown potentially impacting the Aloha State’s image, even if just locally.

Despite the 2,600 miles separating the two cities, San Diego and Honolulu are inexorably linked by that case brought by Edward Peruta, a California freelance videographer and one brought locally around the same time by Christopher Baker, a former Hawaii resident and process server.

Hawaii is a state in which the government technically “may issue” a license to carry a concealed firearm. Final determination is made by the police chief solely at his discretion; in Honolulu that is Louis Kealoha.

Handguns

Two court cases – one in San Diego, the other in Honolulu – may make it easier to get a concealed weapons permit in Hawaii.

Michael E. Cumpston via Wikimedia

Baker’s suit argues that any law-abiding individual should be able to carry a firearm and seek out training when accepting the burden of that weapon for self-defense purposes. A military veteran, Baker faced his share of dangers serving complaints, subpoenas and divorce papers, prompting him to apply for a concealed carry permit. He felt a need to protect himself, was trained in firearm use and safety and had no criminal record. Yet, he was denied a concealed-carry permit.

There are those who believe no one should be permitted to carry a concealed weapon, such as Girard Lau, Hawaii solicitor general. Lau disagrees with the issuance of concealed-carry permits to law-abiding Hawaii citizens and has publicly stated these people present a clear danger to public safety, as if Honolulu would suddenly turn into Dodge City if such permits were widely allowed.

Lau has also stated that average, everyday confrontations would turn deadly. He may fear repeats of instances such as that of Kollin Elderts, a local man who in 2011 attacked off-duty State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy. Deedy, who prosecutors argued was under the influence of alcohol at the time, shot and killed Elderts, but was later acquitted of second-degree murder.

But the Deedy incident is isolated. Information presented by Lau lacks empirical data and is meant to instill trepidation among the masses regarding change. Honestly, it’s downright fear mongering. I would have had more respect for these assertions had he backed them with concrete data, from a cross section of other states experiencing problems with concealed carry, but Lau failed to do that, and it probably won’t happen.

In the absence of that, this writer presents the case of Chicago. For years, Chicago held the dubious distinction of being the murder capital of America (not that Hawaii has that type of problem — it doesn’t, but bear with me) until the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Illinois’ concealed-carry ban in late 2012. Chicago’s subsequent concealed-carry initiative went into effect in early 2014, and law-abiding Chicago citizens began to arm themselves. Then something interesting occurred.

The Washington Times reports robberies directly leading to arrests shrank by 20 percent from the previous year. Burglary and motor vehicle theft reports declined by 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively, and most interestingly, the homicide rate which had risen every year, reached a 56-year low during the first quarter of Chicago’s concealed-carry measure.

What’s fascinating is what Chicago didn’t see, such as instances of otherwise trivial disputes escalating into running gun battles — scenarios essentially implied by Solicitor Lau as what Hawaii might expect should such a measure pass here. To the contrary, the Chicago Tribune, which has covered the concealed-carry transition, interviewed law enforcement officials, who reported few problems with the new law.

The powers that be in Hawaii are quite hypocritical in application of the state’s concealed-carry standard. How? As tightfisted as Chief Kealoha has been regarding approval of concealed carry permits, he has still issued a total of 183. So there are a few Hawaii residents who have been granted the privilege of carrying a concealed firearm. What makes them so special that they can exercise their 2nd Amendment freedoms, while the majority of Hawaii citizens cannot?

Peruta and Baker directly challenge such restriction. If they succeed, commoners may be allowed to enjoy these freedoms in the future, just as the Constitution intended.

The writing is on the wall: Citizens should prepare for the possibility and Chief Kealoha should get his pen ready.

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