If Hawaii's Gun Control Won't Stop Violent Crime, What Will?

(AP Photo/Philip Kamrass, File)

A lot of mayors and governors tend to blame their violent crime problem on other states. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is notorious for that. Chicago’s problems are the result of Indiana’s gun laws, for example. She’s not alone. But what about a gun-controlled state that shares a border with no one?

Hawaii has the distinction of being the only state that lacks borders as we typically think of them. It’s an island state out in the middle of the Pacific. It has tons of gun control laws on the books and because it’s an island, it’s rather difficult to transport weapons illegally, especially since the most common way to travel there is to fly and thus requiring people to deal with airport security.

Further, because it doesn’t share a border with any neighboring nation, guns can’t be smuggled in from another country.

So, with that in mind, why is gun crime skyrocketing in Oahu?

If it seems like there’s been an increase in gun violence on Oahu, it’s because there has been.

A Hawaii criminologist says there’s been a shift and she believes it’s likely tied to Hawaii’s drug crisis.

HPD data shows that since 2015 the number of homicides on Oahu hasn’t changed too much. But the percentage of cases involving firearms has been on the rise since 2017.

When it comes to aggravated assaults, just over 100 involved guns in 2015 ― or about 9% of all aggravated assault cases.

That number has steadily ticked up each year, topping out at 17% in 2020.

HPD data shows robberies involving firearms have remained steady since 2015, with guns being reported in about 16 percent of cases.

“We’ve had drug problems for many decades but increasingly, I’m afraid, like the mainland drug crimes and gun crimes begin to pull together,” said UH criminologist Meda Chesney-Lind.

Again, no shared borders to smuggle things across. They have every advantage when it comes to stopping the flow of illegal guns into their state.

And yet, they’re not able to stop “gun crimes” from taking place.

Funny how that shakes out, isn’t it?

See, the problem is that there’s really no way to stop guns from reaching criminal hands if they want them. Some of those are through theft of lawfully purchased firearms, to be sure, but a lot of those may well be coming in from elsewhere. This despite all the difficulties in trying to import guns.

I mean, it’s not like you can just drive to Hawaii.

Instead, you have to bypass either port security or airline security, and yet, here we are.

And it’s not like you have a free-for-all when it comes to gun sales from within the state. Hawaii is a very gun-controlled state, with licenses to purchase a firearm and universal background checks, it should be more than enough to stop criminals from getting guns, at least based on what gun control advocates say, and yet…

Let’s be honest here. If Hawaii can’t keep guns out of the hands of criminals through gun control laws, then just what chance does any other state have? Hawaii is an island in the middle of nowhere. There’s no driving from Indiana with a trunkload of guns.

Despite that, it happens.

Maybe it’s time to recognize that gun laws don’t stop criminals and never will. If you want to stop violent crime from happening, then you have to start by looking at the people.

Oct 27, 2021 12:30 PM ET