Businesses can use signage to indicate whether guns are allowed on premises.

The mayor on Friday signed a bill into law that establishes firearms-free locations, including schools, hospitals and polling places. The measure was passed in response to a Supreme Court decision that expanded gun rights.

“Our overriding priority was public safety,” Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said, at a bill signing ceremony.

Under the new law, concealed-carry weapons won’t be allowed at a hefty list of “sensitive places.”

Those include:

  • City-owned buildings;
  • State and federally owned buildings;
  • Schools and child care facilities; public parks;
  • Shelters, including homeless and domestic violence shelters;
  • Places frequented by children, including the Waikiki Aquarium;
  • Polling places;
  • Public transit;
  • Businesses that serve alcohol;
  • Large public gatherings, including protests;
  • Concert venues;
  • Cannabis dispensaries;
  • And hospitals.

The “sensitive places” law was the culmination of months of work following the Supreme Court decision released June 23.

“This is a day that we’ve waited for with great anticipation, because we understand the gravity of this legislation,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi in a press release. “From the very beginning, this effort has been about public safety, and I applaud the efforts of those in our communities, including the members of the Honolulu City Council, who joined our call for common sense legislation.”

In addition to establishing “sensitive places,” the law allows businesses to use signage to explicitly state if guns are allowed on premises.

An example of a sign that indicates that guns are permitted in businesses not covered by the new law. (Hawaii News Now)

HPD says that clears up any gray area when responding to potential threats.

“The most important thing for HPD is that we had clear guidance as far as the laws, so we knew what we can enforce and what we cannot enforce and that’s what these signs enable us to do,” HPD Capt. Carlene Lau said.

But critics say it is a vast overreach of individual rights.

Andrew Roberts, with the Hawaii Firearms Coalition, argues HPD will not be able to enforce the law. At a Honolulu City Council meeting earlier this month, he walked in with an empty rifle case to prove his point.

“I wanted to explain there could be a firearm in here, there could not be,” Roberts said.

“You guys don’t know, so how are you gonna be able to enforce this concealed carry ban when you have no way of telling if someone has a firearm?”

Blangiardi says he expects legal challenges and Roberts is already exploring a case.

“We’re in discussions with our lawyers and other organizations throughout the country are also looking at this,” Roberts said. “Yeah, there will be a lawsuit about this. That’s 100% going to happen.”

As of Thursday, 692 people on Oahu have applied for licenses to carry a concealed firearm.

Meanwhile, 59 licenses have been issued.

The new “sensitive places” law goes into effect May 1 and a violation is considered a misdemeanor offense.

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