HONOLULU (KHON2) — It’s now legal for people to possess yet another dangerous weapon on the street. According to a court ruling Tuesday, May 23, people can now carry a billy club or baton in public.
While some said they have a right to defend themselves and see the ruling as a win for second amendment rights, others said it just makes them more afraid.
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It’s called a “billy” club, also known as a baton or nightstick. According to state law, it’s considered a deadly weapon; and it used to be illegal to carry them.
“If you were caught with one outside your home, it would have been a misdemeanor; so, you’d be looking at up to a year in prison,” explained Andrew Namiki Roberts, president of the Hawaii Firearms Coalition.
But a stipulated final judgment and permanent injunction by the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii May 23 changes that.
“The settlement is basically saying that they won’t prosecute people if they’re found with a baton,” Roberts said.
“The injunction in Yukutake v. Lopez is narrow in scope: it addresses one provision of a statute only as it relates to a ‘billy’ — a very specific object that is specifically defined in the Stipulated Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction. The use or threatened use of a ‘billy’ for any illegal purpose — for example, in an unlawful assault — remains a felony under Hawai‘i law. This injunction does not impact any other state laws, including laws relating to firearms and other deadly weapons and does not have any impact on any other Second Amendment litigation.”Statement from the Attorney General’s office.
Roberts called the case another win for second amendment rights and said it gained traction after the Supreme Court ruling in Summer 2022 opened the door for concealed carry of firearms across the country.
“A stick is basically the beginning of self defense throughout human history,” Roberts said. “Rocks and sticks could be picked up off the ground; it would have been what our ancestors used to defend themselves.”
When it comes to self-defense tools, a baton or a billy club is a lot more affordable than a stun-gun or a handgun.
“There’s no extra parts; no nothing you have to buy after you’ve gotten it. It’s one of those things you can buy once and forget about it,” Roberts explained.
But he added that people still need to be responsible when using it.
“You need to make sure they’re familiar with Hawaii’s laws. They’re very independent about when you can and can’t use a self-defense tool,” said Roberts.
The Honolulu Police Department said:
“The Department is aware of the settlement and will be notifying officers of the change. While possession is no longer illegal, its use to commit a crime remains a felony.”
Honolulu City Council member Tyler Dos Santos-Tam represents Downtown and Chinatown.
“To give people more tools, they can use for nefarious reasons is a big concern,” Dos Santos-Tam said.
“Our businesses struggle with vandalism, and a lot of residents don’t feel safe walking around already. And imagine anybody being able to carry a billy club. I don’t think that makes people feel any safer,” added Dos Santos-Tam.
Kapalama area resident Angela Melody Young said she is not a fan of policies becoming looser.
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“I think that enables people to carry weapons and cause destruction and harm to the community,” she added. “I do not feel safe.”