Tropic Blunder: Major issues remain with Honolulu carry permits

(AP Photo/Marina Riker, File)

Starting today, the Honolulu Police Department says it will finally start processing the hundreds of concealed carry applications that have been piling up in the months since the Supreme Court declared the “may issue” process in New York and a handful of other states (including Hawaii) is a violation of the Second Amendment.

For those Honolulu residents who’ve been waiting with increasing exasperation over the long delays, however, relief may not be as close as they’ve been hoping. Not only will it take time for police to wade through the backlog, the city’s requirement that all concealed carry applicants first demonstrate proficiency at a range is going to lead to even longer wait times given the lack of range access on the island of Oahu.

The owner of 808 Gun Club, Tom Tomimbang, along with firearms instructor Russell Tangi, demonstrated the proficiency test for Hawaii News Now.

With Tomimbang protected by safety glasses and ear protection, Tangi barked out the standard that must be met with the first stage.

Tomimbang then pulled his shirt above the holster, drew his Glock pistol and fired twice.

The test requires removing the weapon from the holster and hitting a silhouette target, placed at five distances, from nine to 45 feet. For Tomimbang, a 25-year veteran, the test was a breeze.

And he added it won’t be a major barrier for conscientious owners.

“Practice, practice, practice, right?” he said.

“If they do that before they take the actual qualification course they should be able to do it.”

Some gun owners hoping to apply have pointed out that the city’s Koko Head Public Shooting Complex is closed indefinitely due to health concerns from lead contamination.

The closure seems to reduce the availability of training or testing opportunities.

But Tomimbang said the city facility was not suitable for practice or testing under the HPD process anyway because it doesn’t allow for the short range shooting required in the proficiency tests.

It also doesn’t allow holsters or the type of target required.

He said there are only two indoor ranges available for civilians on Oahu, which could mean long waits to qualify. The city has pointed out that many military members and families have access to ranges on base.

Seems like a Catch-22, doesn’t it? You’re required to undergo a proficiency test at a local range, but there are only a couple of locations where would-be applicants can get the mandated training and take the test, which will make it incredibly difficult to quickly satisfy the city’s requirements. Still, Honolulu police say it should be a matter of weeks, not months, before the first permits are issued; a timeline that surprised one Honolulu city council member.

At the Wednesday meeting, Commissioner Carrie Okinaga seemed alarmed by how quickly permits might be issued, and questioned police brass about it.

“Is it like a year or two years? Or two months?” she asked.

When told it would be more like a month, she said “Wow. OK.”

She pointed out that permits would likely be out before the city could pass legislation to control where firearms could be worn.

That sounds like a lack of planning on the part of city council members. It’s certainly not a worthwhile excuse to continue infringing on the rights of Honolulu residents who expect that their elected leaders are going to respect their right to armed self-defense instead of inhibiting their ability to exercise that fundamental right.

Then again, any “sensitive place” ordinance that the city council adopts isn’t likely to respect the Second Amendment any more than their permitting process does. And with the state legislature set to impose new permit requirements as well as a laundry list of “gun-free zones” in the coming months, the impositions on the inherent right of armed self-defense are likely to grow even larger… just like the delays in issuing permits themselves.