Maui sued over ban on stun gun sales

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File

Last year, the state of Hawaii ended up repealing its ban on stun guns and other electronic weapons after it was sued, but some localities in the state are apparently refusing to get on board with the new law. Now the county of Maui finds itself in the legal crosshairs of several Hawaii residents and their 2A attorneys, who have filed a brand new lawsuit aimed at forcing the county to comply.

The suit, filed on Wednesday by attorneys Alan Beck, Stephen Stamboulieh, and Donald Wilkerson on behalf of gun owner Christy Gusman, gun store Maui Ammo and Gun Supply, and the Hawaii Firearms Coalition, alleges that Maui County and the Maui County Council have failed to adopt a licensing scheme meant to replace the state’s previous ban on stun guns, Tasers, and other electronic weapons.

Under the licensing regime, anyone hoping to sell those products has to apply for a license. The county “shall” review the application, and “may” approve it “if it determines that the applicant meets all the requirements” set out under the law. The problem is that, so far anyway, the Maui Council has refused to approve any license applications, which means that a de facto ban still exists for both would-be sellers and those hoping to legally purchase a stun gun for personal defense. 

Quoting from the complaint filed in federal court in Hawaii:

On March 14, 2022, Defendant Maui City Council held a hearing on a  draft ordinance “relating to electric gun dealer licensing” and acknowledging that  Act 183 was signed in July 2021 and went into effect on January 1, 2022.

During the meeting, it was stated that there were retailers in Maui who have already purchased inventory but were “told” that they couldn’t sell any of the  inventory until Maui passed an Ordinance allowing the sale.

Despite Act 183 taking effect on January 1, 2022, and Defendants having notice of the new law being signed into law on July 7, 2021, Defendants have  failed to take the proper steps in order to effectuate the implementation of Act 183,  and thus, have perpetuated a complete ban on the sale, ownership and possession of  electric arms. 

Because electric arms are protected under the Second Amendment,  such a ban violates the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

The plaintiffs attorneys say that not only is Maui not complying with state law, but council members have actively sought a way to make their local ordinances more restrictive than the state’s already draconian licensing scheme.

Maui County Council included in this Ordinance that “[e]ach licensee must obtain and keep current at all times throughout the duration of the license period a commercial general liability policy with the following minimum limits and  coverages placed with an insurance carrier authorized to do business in the State of  Hawai‘i with a minimum AM Best credit rating of A–VII.” 

Then, the Council included that the policy licensed electric arms dealers will be required to purchase is a “primary commercial general liability policy with $2,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 annual aggregate, which must include a  duty to defend the County if the County is sued as a result of the licensee’s business operations.”

Additionally, the council will require “[a]n umbrella policy written on  a ‘following for’” basis with $2,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 annual  aggregate.

This Ordinance is aimed at dealers in electric arms, which as the  Council discussed, are generally regarded as less than lethal weapons. However, this insurance requirement is so far out of the normal, it will be extremely expensive, if it can even be obtained, and is an attempt to effectuate a ban on electric arms through requirements that cannot be met.

I’m reminded of San Jose’s new insurance requirement for gun owners, though honestly that local ordinance is almost impossible to enforce, unlike Maui’s new mandate. Police can’t just stroll into someone’s home in San Jose and ask to see their liability insurance, but gun shops in Maui must be able to produce proof of that insanely high amount of insurance before they can ever hope to receive approval to sell electronic weapons to customers.

Not only that, but as the attorneys point out, Maui Council is actually requiring applicants to declare the county and all of its employees as named insureds, which is an even more absurd requirement.

Taken together, these provisions do indeed appear to be an attempt to keep Hawaii’s now discarded stun gun ban in place, at least in Maui County. I can’t wait to read the county’s response to this lawsuit and its attempt to defend these egregious mandates, but what I’m really looking forward to seeing is a smackdown from a federal judge overturning these new ordinances as a violation of the Second Amendment.