Hawaii's "Electric" Gun Ban Is Going Away

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

The Aloha State is back again. In this edition we’re going to be discussing the electronic weapons ban that was overturned, but more specifically whether or not “carry” is allowed. Spoiler alert, carry is allowed (so “they” say), but if you’re looking for some clarification on that in some sort of official capacity, we now have some documentation to support this.

When these laws get overturned, the matter of carry ends up being a point of contention with every camp sometimes. One side saying “of course this means you’ll also be able to carry them” and another saying “um, this was about ownership, not possession everywhere.” The debate is conceivably still going on in New Jersey about whether or not it’s legal to bear electronic weapons because the statutes haven’t been changed, even though the case opinion addresses the subject (NJ people, this is not an invite for an argument, thank you :). Just a statement of fact.).

First reported in a social media post by Hawaii Firearms Coalition (HIFICO), they explain the situation.

After a year-long battle, The State Attorney General Office conceded that Tasers and stun guns would be legal to carry outside of the home. In a brief filed today with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the State Attorney General’s office says “Nothing in Act 183 limits the carrying or possession of electric guns.”

[…]

The concern was that under HRS134-51, a Taser could be considered a dangerous weapon, and as a result, a person carrying one could be arrested and charged with its possession. Today’s brief provides clarification that this is not the case.

Looking at the brief directly, we’re given the following:

Nothing in Act 183 limits the carrying or possession of electric guns in specific locations.  the primary limitation on the use of electric guns is that they must be used for self-defense, defense of another person, or protection of property, which can occur anywhere. Id. § 2 at 3. Act 183 contains no provision that is equivalent to the “place to keep” requirements for firearms, which limit the possession of firearms to the person’s place of business, residence, or sojourn, or travel between these places and other specified locations in an enclosed container. See Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 134-23, 134-24, 134-25 (2011). Therefore, Act 183 clearly permits people to carry or possess electric guns regardless of the location.

Act 183 serves the State’s important, even compelling, interest in protecting public safety. Act 183, § 1 at 1 (“The purpose of this Act is to protect the health and safety of the public by regulating the sale and use of electric guns[.]”). However, it does so by repealing the former ban on civilian ownership and replacing it with a scheme based on reasonable regulation.

Just because this is seemingly settled it does not mean it actually is. Attorney Alan Beck who represented the plaintiff in the original case and I were chatting about the situation, and he expressed both his happiness with this outcome as well as his concerns.

I am very glad that the State of Hawaii has expressed a desire to allow citizens to defend themselves with Tasers and stun guns. However, we will still seek a court ruling to that effect because we do not want a city prosecutor to disagree with the state and attempt to apply state law differently.

I tend to agree with Beck’s assertion on how this can easily get “confused” by a prosecutor. Perhaps an overzealous prosecutor?

The fact that the powers that be are so controlling that they banned less than lethal self-defense options speaks volumes about what the policymakers think of us peasants. The overturn of Hawaii’s prohibition on the possession of electronic weapons and added to that this clarification that people may bear them for self-defense, is righting a long standing wrong. I formerly reported on this case earlier this year and noted:

The strict prohibition on stun guns, tasers, or any electronic weapons is a matter that should have been put fully to bed in 2008, 2010, and 2016. The first section of Caetano makes this clear:

The Court has held that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding,”

[…]

The passage of this law is a big leap for Second Amendment rights. The Beck-Stamboulieh team has been a wrecking ball to unconstitutional provisions in law and slowly they’re bringing it all down from bottom to top.

The new law regulating electronic weapons in Hawaii goes into effect January 1, 2022, as explained by HIFICO in an online post. Congratulations are in order for the citizens of Hawaii as they are regaining their natural birth-right to self-defend. This situation, like others reported on, we’ll be keeping a watchful eye on how things continue to unfold. We’ll report back with any updates.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET