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Honolulu Police Chief Pleads For Passage Of Gun Measures In Wake Of Diamond Head Shooting

Casey Harlow / HPR
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard is asking legislators to advance four bills aimed at helping prevent gun violence, Wednesday, February 26, 2020.

Honolulu's first responders are asking state lawmakers to pass a package of gun control bills that they say could prevent incidents like January's Diamond Head shooting that left two police officers dead.


Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard implored lawmakers Wednesday to approve four bills that aim to prevent gun violence.

Both the Senate and the House will hear the measures Thursday. They deal with subjects that include so-called ghost guns and banning magazines that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Lawmakers say the bills would close loopholes and prevent gun-related crimes, which have been on the rise.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Chris Lee said one of the measures would keep people from buying ammunition for guns that aren’t registered to them. H.B. 2736 would regulate ammunition in the same way firearms are regulated.

"The measure does not infringe upon the rights of anyone who legally owns a firearm," Lee said. "But [it] allows those who are responsible gun owners . . . to just show [their gun] registration, which would allow them to buy ammunition."

The measure would go a long way to keep ammunition and firearms out of the wrong hands, he said.

Lee also highlighted H.B. 2744, which would establish a commission to address gun violence and violent crimes. Members of the commission would include experts and representatives from law enforcement and mental health agencies who would share data and resources.

The measure would also make it a Class C felony to purchase, manufacture or obtain a gun without a serial number, either made through a 3D printer or by ordering parts online.

According to Lee, two homicides in the state have been committed using unregistered weapons made with fabricated components.

Gun rights advocates argue the measures penalize law-abiding citizens while not enough is being done to help the mentally ill or prevent criminals from getting weapons.

Lawmakers said the bills have mental health provisions in them, and although the bills don’t entirely solve the issue of gun violence, they say it’s a start.

Ellen Carson, a gun control advocate, agrees the bills are a good beginning, but she would like to see lawmakers do more. 

"Hawaii [is] the only state in the nation that has an assault weapons law that fails to ban assault rifles or large-capacity magazines," said Carson. "And those are used frequently on the mainland in regards to mass violence."

Carson says stricter measures would keep Hawaii one of the safest states in the country.


Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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