Win in Hawaii protecting gun permit applicants from gross privacy violations

Win in Hawaii protecting gun permit applicants from gross privacy violations
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

The other month I reported on a lawsuit concerning privacy violations built into the Hawai’i County code when applying for a license to carry. The case, Grell v. County of Hawaii, went after provisions in the law where the issuing authority was requiring applicants to waive their protections of confidential information. Among the things that the county wanted applicants to surrender included medical information as well as privileged attorney client information. There’s good news from the Big Island, an agreement was made. On September 29, 2023 a stipulated final judgment was issued in the case.


From the list of things applicants were expected to acquiesce to, there were:

  1. Waive any claims against any person supplying information about their history.
  2. Waive legal privileges to include “attorney-client, clergyman-penitent, husband-wife, physician-patient, psychologist-client, creditor-customer, and accountant-client” confidentialities.
  3. Waive the right to make claims against Hawaiʻi “in connection with the application process,” specifically stipulating:

I expressly waive all of my legal rights and causes of action to the extent that the Hawai‘i Police Department investigation (for purposes of evaluating my suitability or application to carry a firearm) may violate or infringe upon these aforementioned legal rights and causes of action. I hereby authorize the Department to reproduce this form to be used solely for the purposes of my Application for a License to Carry a Firearm in the County of Hawai‘i.

This release from liability given by the undersigned to the Department, its officers, employees, agents, and all others as heretofore provided, shall apply to any right of action that might accrue to the undersigned, my heirs, and personal representatives.

As previously reported, this is a big burden to prove the constitutionality of. How the county was going to respond, there was no telling. Back in August I observed [emphasis added]:


Needless to say, there’s a lot of unconstitutional to unpack there. The blatant Second Amendment violation is facially there, by the county making this a requirement. Further the county expects people to surrender other liberties such as their Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights?

The county has the hubris to force citizens to hold harmless the issuing authority on any damages that may result from the surrender of their privacy rights. To keep it succinct and professional, that’s totally unacceptable.

This filing is so fresh and hot it’ll make the volcanoes jealous in the former territory archipelago turned 50th star on our Jack. There’s been a lot of work that’s been getting done in Hawaiʻi, and the efforts of attorneys like Beck and plaintiffs like Grell are commendable. I suspect that there’s a high potential that the county will try to come to an agreement with the aggrieved to amicably moot the case. I could be wrong on that, but given the number of legal spankings that have been doled out in the land of Dole, the county of Hawaii would be smart to just do the right thing. 

I’m not about to start advertising myself as some sort of a swami or claim this as my “Babe Ruth moment.” Anyone with a modicum of an understanding of what’s gone one in Hawaiʻi could call this shot, handedly. However, it was nice to read this news for the sake of the injured in Hawaiʻi.


The stipulation ordered in part:


2) The County and its agents are enjoined permanently from:

(a) requiring any applicant for a permit to carry a firearm registration to sign the “HAWAI`I POLICE DEPARTMENT APPLICANT’S WAIVER OF LIABILITY AND RELEASE FORM FOR APPLICATION FOR LICENSE TO CARRY FIREARMS AND WEAPONS” (“the Form”) as it existed on August 4, 2023,


(b) denying any applicants’ application for a permit to carry a firearm solely because the applicant refuses to sign the Form as it existed on August 4, 2023.

3) Within ten (10) business days of the entry of this Stipulated Judgment and Order, the County will begin using the waiver form currently in use by the City and County of Honolulu, attached hereto as Exhibit A, with references to the “Honolulu Police Department” in said form replaced with “Hawaiʻi Police Department

I reached out to Alan Beck, one of the attorneys litigating the case and he discussed the win:

There is a non basis for the government to demand you waive your right to privacy with your attorney, priest, spouse or other confidential communication in order to exercise a constitutional right. I am glad I was able to end the County of Hawaii’s practice.


This is another big victory for gun owners in the County of Hawaiʻi. The win is doubly important, as an agreement was met prior to the attorneys slugging it out in court. Attorneys Alan Beck and Richard L. Holcomb need to be commended for their work on this case, and their continued work to see the liberation of the citizens of Hawaiʻi. There’s still plenty of work to be done in the Aloha State, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more victories in the days to come.

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