To be honest, I’ve got mixed feelings about this. While I’m glad that the city of Honolulu and the state of Hawaii are being forced to cut a check to Michael Santucci, the roughly $130,000 he’ll receive after his Second Amendment rights were violated doesn’t seem nearly enough to make up for the harm that was done to him.
Santucci was an active duty member of the Navy in 2021 when he sought a permit to possess a firearm in the home. After acknowledging that he had recently received mental health counseling, his application was rejected by the Honolulu PD on the grounds that he’d allegedly admitted to a significant mental health disorder. Not only was his permit denied, but the firearms he had previously lawfully purchased were seized by the Honolulu police.
In truth, Santucci was homesick, and simply wanted to talk to a counselor at Tripler Army Medical Center. Santucci ended up suing after his permit was rejected, and last year a federal judge ruled in his favor, declaring that Santucci had not demonstrated any sort of significant mental health disorder that would disqualify him under the Hawaii law while leaving the statute itself untouched.
After the judge’s ruling, the city and state settled with Santucci. The state of Hawaii agreed to fork over some $28,000 for Santucci’s trouble, while the city of Honolulu agreed to a $102,000 figure. Santucci still hasn’t received a check from the city, but it looks like one will soon be cut.
A Honolulu City Council committee Tuesday approved the city’s portion of the settlement — $102,500 — which goes to the full council next month.
The lawsuit by Michael Santucci alleged that the HPD seized his guns and that it held up his permit application in 2021 because he wrote down on his firearms questionnaire that he had recently received mental health counseling.
His lawyer said police had violated Santucci’s constitutional rights.
“Mr. Santucci’s case sort of demonstrates the attitude that HPD has toward people owning firearms. I think they view it really more as a privilege rather than a constitutional right,” said Santucci’s lawyer Alan Beck.
I’d say that’s an understatement on Beck’s part, and it’s not just limited to the city of Honolulu or its police department. As we reported earlier this week, local departments like the Honolulu PD are denying permits to anyone who possesses a medical marijuana card, and Gov. Josh Brown recently signed a carry-killer bill that prohibits lawful concealed carry in the vast majority of publicly accessible spaces, including all businesses by default. The Democrats in charge of Hawaii’s government are doing everything they can to keep the islands gun-free and have displayed no concern or consternation about treading over a fundamental constitutional right in the process.
Because of Santucci’s legal actions the city of Honolulu has changed its questions on the firearms permit application, which will hopefully prevent this particular infringement from happening in the future. When it comes to getting the state to actually start treating the right to keep and bear arms as the fundamental right that it is, however, attorneys like Alan Beck and organizations like the Hawaii Firearms Coalition and the Hawaii Rifle Association still have their work cut out for them.