Hawaii isn’t the first blue state in the nation to impose a ban on so-called ghost guns this year, but the two bills signed by Gov. Daniel Ige may very well be the worst that we’ve seen turned into laws.
House Bill 1366, actually expands the ban on home-built firearms that was originally approved last year. The new bill bans the possession of unfinished frames and receivers, as well as any home-built firearms that were legally constructed by Hawaii residents. The previous law didn’t ban possession for those guns that were owned prior to the ban imposed in 2020, but now these residents must either destroy their home-built guns, turn them over to police, or risk a felony charge if they’re found with an unserialized firearm when the new law takes effect on January 1st.
“We must make our communities safer now: in schools, on the streets, in stores, and in our homes,” said Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, in a statement Thursday. “Hawaii is not immune to the type of gun violence we’ve seen on the mainland, and this bill is a welcome step in the right direction.”
Nonsense. This bill will do nothing to prevent or reduce violent crime, because there’s no real way for police to proactively enforce the ban. If police discover an unserialized firearm was used in the commission of a crime, this would allow for another charge to be filed, but it’s not going to prevent criminals from illegally acquiring (or making) firearms in the first place.
In addition to the expanded gun ban, Ige also signed a bill dealing with storage of firearms. HB 31 would allow for criminal charges to be filed against gun owners who allow any of their firearms to be accessed by those under the age of 18.
“4.6 million children and adolescents in the U.S. live in homes with at least one unsecured firearm,” said Honolulu Sen. Karl Rhoads, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Not surprisingly, the presence of unsecured firearms in the home increases the risk of unintentional and intentional shootings. In 68% of deadly school shootings, the attacker obtained the firearm from the attacker’s home or from that of a relative.”
Rhoads added that teens between 16 and 18 have the highest rate of attempted suicide among all children, and more than half of all school shootings have been carried out by 16- or 17-year-olds.
What Rhoads doesn’t say is that in the school shootings that were cited, the attacker was often able to gain access to a firearm even though it had been locked away. It seems to me that rather than making it a crime for a mother to allow her 17-year old daughter access to a handgun for self-defense while she’s alone in her home, Rhoads and his fellow Democrats could have expanded mental health treatment for adolescents and encouraged students and staff to speak up if and when they hear of any plans for an attack at school. After all, according to the same report that Rhoads cited, the Secret Service also reported than more than 90% of attackers communicated their threats beforehand.
Rather than actually trying to address the small number of individuals who might pose a real threat, however, the Democrats decided once again to target all responsible gun owners with several new restrictions on their right to keep and bear arms. It won’t make the state any safer, but it does confirm that Hawaii is one of the least hospitable states for Second Amendment.