Honolulu Mayor Wants Guns Banned From Many Public Areas
Blangiardi will ask the City Council to draft a law restricting residents with legal firearms in their possession from many public and private spaces. But gun advocates say it's a lawsuit in the making.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says he wants the City Council to draft an ordinance limiting where guns can be carried.
Blangiardi is getting out in front of a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday to finalize rules that will allow Oahu residents to carry firearms in public. The state and counties need to craft new policies on gun carry following a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this summer that overturned Hawaii’s ban against being able to carry guns outside the home.
Blangiardi said in a statement Thursday that firearms should be banned from areas such as schools, government buildings, parks, voting locations and public transportation. He also wants a rule created for private businesses and charitable organizations to decide whether firearms are allowed on their premises.
“The Supreme Court’s recent ruling requiring the City to allow for public carrying of firearms presents a formidable and unprecedented challenge for our State, and all of our local communities,” Blangiardi said in the statement. “Our state has restricted public carrying of firearms for nearly 170 years and as a result, has one of the lowest gun-violence rates in the country and we want it to stay that way.”
Kainoa Kaku, president of the Hawaii Rifle Association, said guns are already banned from schools and federal buildings and the law would amount to a “back door ban” on residents’ Second Amendment rights.
“It’s a back door ban around the Supreme Court decision itself,” Kaku said. “We have a constitutional right to carry a gun but we cannot carry it anywhere? Might as well stay home. If they want to go down this road we will sue them.”
Kaku said Illinois and New York have imposed similar bans for carrying weapons in public places since the court’s June decision and lawsuits against the limitations have already been filed in both states.
Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan said in a statement that the department is committed to protecting the public while ensuring everyone’s rights.
“The upcoming change to the firearms law represents a significant shift for our community and our officers. It is our hope that city council members and state legislators will pass laws that reflect the principles and values of our residents,” according to the statement.
Hawaii Coalition Against Gun Violence spokesperson Deb Nehmad said the group supports the mayor’s action.
The coalition has “a very positive reaction to the mayor’s announcement of a draft ordinance to define ‘sensitive’ sites where guns may be restricted with clarifications that it will apply to residents and non-residents and an expanded list of specified public spaces,” Nehmad said. “We are especially pleased about the inclusion of a default position for private property owners who must affirmatively indicate that firearms are permitted on their property.”
The Honolulu Police Department has scheduled a public hearing starting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday to consider adopting new rules governing firearm permits and licenses. The public can submit testimony in advance to be reviewed by HPD and the city’s Corporation Counsel before the rules are adopted.
As of Thursday, HPD has received 477 applications for concealed carry permits but no permits have been approved yet, according to HPD spokesperson Michelle Yu.
HPD expects to issue the first public carry licenses before the end of the October if the rules are passed without amendment.
Maui, Kauai and Hawaii counties have already adopted new rules to comply with the court’s decision.
Among other rules, all three counties require that firearms be registered and applicants be at least 21 years old and pass the state’s hunter education or gun safety course. The neighbor island counties do not list area restrictions on their gun permit web sites.
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
Not a subscription
Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom, and we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content because we believe in journalism as a public service. That’s why donations from readers like you are essential to our continued existence.
Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help keep our journalism free for all readers. And if you’re able, consider a sustaining monthly gift to support our work all year-round.