- Special Projects
As the U.S. Congress failed to agree on meaningful gun-control measure this week, the governor of Hawaii quietly signed three bills regarding local firearms ownership.
The most significant is Senate Bill 2954, now Act 108, which grants county police departments authority to enroll firearms applicants and individuals registering their firearms in a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal record monitoring service.
The service — known as a “rap back service” and operated by the FBI — would be used to alert police when an owner of a firearm is arrested for a criminal offense anywhere in the country.
The intent is to help the departments evaluate “whether the firearm owner may continue to legally possess and own firearms,” according to the governor’s office.
The law, the first of its kind for any state in the nation, also authorizes the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center to access firearm registration data.
In a press release, Gov. David Ige said:
This is about our community’s safety and responsible gun ownership. This system will better enable our law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of all Hawaii residents and visitors to our islands. This bill has undergone a rigorous legal review process by our Attorney General’s office and we have determined that it is our responsibility to approve this measure for the sake of our children and families.
This is about our community’s safety and responsible gun ownership. This system will better enable our law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of all Hawaii residents and visitors to our islands.
This bill has undergone a rigorous legal review process by our Attorney General’s office and we have determined that it is our responsibility to approve this measure for the sake of our children and families.
SB 2954 was introduced by state Sen. Will Espero, a Democrat who serves as that chamber’s vice president.
According to the bill, “The legislature finds that criminal background checks on firearms applicants are critical to ensure the safety of the community.”
Ige also signed into law House Bill 625, which specifies that harassment by stalking and misdemeanor sexual assault disqualify a person from owning, possessing or controlling any firearm or ammunition.
HB 625 was introduced by state House Rep. Chris Lee, a Democrat. The bill states that stalking and related acts of domestic abuse “have been linked with gun violence.”
The National Rifle Association and the Hawaii Rifle Association previously called on their members to oppose both the rap-back registration bill and the one barring those convicted of misdemeanor stalking and sexual assault from having guns.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, co-founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, issued a press release applauding the bill’s signing.
“This is a major victory for common sense and another defeat for the gun lobby. Republicans and Democrats came together to do the responsible thing: make commonsense changes to Hawaii’s laws that respect the rights of law-abiding Hawaiians, will help guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and make Hawaii a safer place to live,” they said in a joint statement.
A third measure that is now law, House Bill 2632, requires firearms owners to surrender their firearms and ammunition to chiefs of police if they have been disqualified from owning a firearm and ammunition because of a “diagnosis of significant behavioral, emotional, or mental disorder, or emergency or involuntary hospitalization to a psychiatric facility.”
The chiefs can also seize firearms and ammunition if a disqualified firearms owner fails to surrender the weapons after receiving written notice.
HB 2632 was introduced by House Rep. Gregg Takayama on behalf of another party.