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Honolulu Police Department considers concealed firearm rules and laws

FILE - People walk past the Waikiki Gun Club, Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Honolulu. (Marco Garcia/AP)
Marco Garcia/AP
FR132414 AP
FILE - People walk past the Waikiki Gun Club, Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Honolulu. (Marco Garcia/AP)

It’s been a little more than three months since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York law requiring people to show a need to carry a firearm in public. The decision's impact has already stretched here to Hawaiʻi.

The Honolulu Police Department is in the process of changing the requirements for those who want a permit to carry a firearm in public without showing it.

HPD’s proposed concealed carry permitting rules include extensive training and testing requirements on top of a background and mental health check for a one-year permit.

Deb Nehmad with the Hawaii Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence said these rules are just a start.

“If we are going to allow individuals to carry guns outside of their home, whether it's concealed or unconcealed, then I think society has a right to require that they be subject to a full vetting,” Nehmad said.

In her written testimony, she outlined several places the rules could be beefed up, including in education; increasing the proposed four-hour training education requirement; and ensuring the background checks are done sufficiently.

Gun rights advocates came out in force to HPD’s public hearing on Tuesday, including Mike Elliott. During testimony, he said he’s easily obtained permits in other states, and argued that HPD’s proposed rules impose unfair turnaround times.

“You put yourself in a situation where people are in a constant cycle to try to maintain a right,” Elliott said. “A one-year term is not long enough. Most states have a five-year term for concealed carry.”

Last month, Mayor Rick Blangiardi submitted a bill to the Honolulu City Council to designate sensitive spaces where concealed carrying would not be allowed.

This bill offers a default rule that private businesses and organizations may decide whether or not firearms are allowed on their property.

Meanwhile on Hawaiʻi Island, council members discussed a similar bill.

Introduced by Councilmember Aaron Chung at the request of the former Hawaiʻi Police Department Chief Paul Ferreira, who retired in September, the bill would designate sensitive places including schools, parks and hospitals, among other spaces.

During the Tuesday discussion at the council’s Parks and Recreation and Public Safety Committee meeting, members were concerned it created too many restrictions.

Councilmembers ultimately deferred this bill to continue tweaking the list of sensitive places.

“There might become a proliferation of gun licenses or concealed weapon licenses and it may become problematic,” Chung said. “It's going to change the culture of what we have in Hawaiʻi. I don't know if it's going to make it better or if it's going to make it worse, I really don't know, but this is an issue that needs to be examined.”

Bill 220 will come back for further consideration later this month.

Sabrina Bodon was Hawaiʻi Public Radio's government reporter.
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