More than 400 people have obtained a concealed carry license in Honolulu over the past year, which may not seem like a big number but is still about 400 more licenses than the Honolulu PD issued over the past two decades. Though it was always possible in theory to be approved for a license, the Honolulu PD (and almost every other jurisdiction in the state) hardly ever determined than an applicant had good cause or a justifiable need to bear arms in self-defense.
Last year’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen resulted in those good cause standards being dropped in the handful of “may issue” states, and for the first time Hawaii residents actually have a reasonable chance to obtain a carry license. Though the state has still imposed a wide variety of “gun-free zones” where lawful carry is banned, interest in concealed carry continues to grow. State Rep. Diamond Garcia says his office is being inundated with calls from constituents wanting to learn more about the application process and the laws governing concealed carry, so he set up a town hall meeting this week to help them navigate the still onerous process.
Three weeks ago at the Kapolei Skate Park a 19-year-old was nearly stabbed to death, and a man with a knife robbed a 64-year-old man.
And in early October, a man’s neck was slashed at a restaurant in Ka Makana Alii.
“That is very alarming,” said Iwalani Laybon McBrayer, President of Kaupea Homestead Association. “You don’t feel safe with your children like we used to 16 years ago.”
McBrayer and her neighborhood security watch group are hoping to get firearm training from either HPD or a private security company.
“Having a gun doesn’t make you safe. You have to know how to carry it and maintain it, and these are the things that we as women are looking and seeking to learn to protect ourselves right now in today’s society,” McBrayer explained.
Kapolei resident Larry Partida has two licenses to carry.
“I think it’s important that people understand that just because you have a license to carry does not give them the supernatural police powers to detain and enforce the law,” said Partida.
“It should be used primarily for protection of family.”
Partida says he wants to see lawbreakers held more accountable.
“At least on the community side, we’re not seeing follow through in terms of accountability, like sentences,” said Partida.
Garcia, who’s the Minority Leader in the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives, agrees that the legislature should be spending more time and energy going after violent offenders instead of cracking down on legal gun ownership. Hawaii has one of the lowest gun ownership rates in the nation, and unfortunately the vast majority of Garcia’s colleagues want to keep it that way.
Even in a post-Bruen environment Hawaii is pushing to see just how far it can go to deny licenses based on arbitrary determinations. Applicants in Honolulu, for instance, must waive their HIPAA rights and allow the chief of police to access all of their medical records, including current and past prescription medication, to determine whether they have “the essential character or temperament necessary to be entrusted with a firearm.” The chief can also deny a permit based on being involved in a “crime of violence”… even if that violence was a non-lethal use of force in self-defense.
That kind of open-ended discretion was supposed to be a thing of the past thanks to Bruen, but the powers that be in the state are trying to push the envelope to see exactly what the courts will let them get away with. I appreciate Diamond Garcia holding this town hall to help residents navigate the bureaucratic maze that lawmakers have placed between them and their right to keep and bear arms, but any meetings that he hosts in the future should also spend some time explaining and highlighting the ongoing violations of a fundamental civil right that are taking place.