Hawaii Gun Violence Commission Would Be Exempt From Sunshine Laws

The state of Hawaii wants to create a “gun violence commission” that would take a look at the issue. This isn’t unusual. Several states have them, though whether they’re doing any good or not still remains to be seen.

However, such commissions make good political theater. It’s a way to look like you’re serious on an issue without having to actually do a whole lot of anything. Further, it’s also a way to put a rubber stamp on measures you want to pass anyone, but need some degree of justification.

In and of themselves, such commissions aren’t a huge deal.

That is unless they’re trying to evade sunshine laws.

Hawaii lawmakers want to set up a new commission to study and address gun violence and violent crimes but its meetings would be closed to the public and it wouldn’t have to release its records.

In the wake of the January incident on Hibiscus Drive that killed two Honolulu police officers and torched several Diamond Head homes, legislators have been thinking about possible ways to bring together law enforcement and mental health agencies to share information and resources to prevent such incidents, said state Rep. Chris Lee, a main sponsor of House Bill 2744.

“This commission would put them all at the same table,” he said. Hopefully, that would lead to better responses and save lives, he added.

However, the public would not be clued into the commission’s work as the bill seeks to make it exempt from the state’s open records and meetings law “to protect the sensitive nature of relevant data and information,” according to the bill.

“If we’re trying to create laws that are going to stop mass shootings and deter criminals, we don’t want to open up the discussion about where our vulnerabilities are to the public,” Lee said.

That provision has received some pushback as the bill moved forward last week in the Senate.

Yeah, can’t imagine why.

First, understand that criminals already know where the vulnerabilities are. Someone has already figured them out and exploited them, as well as having told their buddies how they did it. You’re not really going to reveal anything to anyone.

Plus, gun rights activists in the state have already criticized the commission’s makeup as being blatantly one-sided. In anti-gun Hawaii, we all know what kinds of things we’re going to start seeing from the commission.

I can’t help but wonder if the real reason they don’t want the commission to be scrutinized by the public is they don’t want to give pro-gun voices an opportunity to address matters as they come up, but instead want to dump everything at once so Second Amendment supporters are unable to challenge matters comprehensively.

If you have 50 recommendations that all drop at once, but ten of which are “total gun ban” variations, it’s harder for pro-gun groups to address all 50 suggestions. They’ll have to focus on the most egregious ones, thus allowing the others to slide right on by.

Then again, maybe I’m giving them too much credit. Maybe they’re not that sneaky. Perhaps they really are stupid enough to believe the bad guys don’t know their vulnerabilities.

In that case, don’t expect great things out of this commission.

Of course, I wouldn’t recommend great things out of the commission anyway. This is Hawaii, after all. It’s anti-gun and likes it that way.