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Lawmakers construct statewide sensitive places, gun safety bill

FILE - A sales associate arranges a display of guns at a firearms store in Burbank, Calif., Thursday, June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/AP
FILE - A sales associate arranges a display of guns at a firearms store in Burbank, Calif., Thursday, June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Senate Bill 1230 is the state Legislature’s encompassing gun legislation measure, which would define where concealed carry firearms are not allowed and add new provisions on concealed carry laws.

Lawmakers agreed on a statewide measure during conference committee last week, which still needs full House and Senate approval, and Gov. Josh Green’s OK before implementation.

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, the state needed to reassess its gun laws with fresh eyes, Dave Day, special assistant to the attorney general, said Sunday.

"This bill strikes a very appropriate balance between public safety, protecting people and children in Hawaiʻi, along with honoring, or at least respecting, the Second Amendment rights of individuals," Day said.

Last year, the Bruen decision on gun laws in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen opened up a discussion for sensitive places, and through this, municipalities have the jurisdiction to specify those locations.

"It would have been so much easier if we could just say, 'Here's where you can have concealed carry,'" Sen. Glenn Wakai of Oʻahu, who introduced the bill, said in an interview Friday. "But the Supreme Court made us do the opposite and outline specific places where you cannot have a concealed carry gun."

Some specific places include government properties, hospitals, schools, bars or restaurants that serve alcohol, and the beach. The bill also includes parking lots across from these places, which was added after discussion.

"In the first couple of passes, we didn't think about the parking lot next to some of these institutions, but saw the wisdom of making sure that not just the school premises, but the parking lot, is someplace that we should not allow people to just be walking through with a concealed carry on," Wakai said.

Lawmakers and the state’s Office of the Attorney General partnered to formulate the framework of the bill.

Deputy Solicitor General Nick Mclean said the types of sensitive places can be broken down into three categories: where people congregate, where there are vulnerable people, and locations of government activity.

"Ultimately, we think that each of these categories of places is appropriate from a public safety perspective, is consistent with the traditional scope of regulation in this are looking back all the way to the 19 Century and beyond," Mclean said. "Ultimately, partly because of that, is legally defensible."

County-level sensitive place bills have passed on Hawaiʻi Island and Oʻahu. The City and County of Honolulu’s gun law begins Monday.

Sabrina Bodon is Hawaiʻi Public Radio's government reporter. Contact her at sbodon@hawaiipublicradio.org or 808-792-8252.
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